It’s November 28, 2015. The Archbishop Murphy Wildcats have just lost to Tumwater in the 2A state semi finals at the Tacoma Dome. But they didn’t lose hope. The team immediately promised that they’d be back in 2016, looking for the ring. And boy what a journey they went on to get to today, December 3, 2016.
The football team officially begins practicing for the 2016 season, welcoming several new comers including Colin Montez (sr) and Raymond Pimentel (jr). As a team, they participate in a service project which provides food for homeless people in the community.
The Wildcats win their home opener in a stunner against 3A Issaquah, 73-0. Then beat 3A Bishop Blanchet 59-0. And then defeat rival Kings 38-0. On September 20th, word spreads that South Whidbey has decided to forfeit their Friday game against AMHS due to safety concerns; the Falcons roster less than 20 healthy players. But Sultan also forfeits the following week, despite having won their first 4 games.
Granite Falls becomes the next to bow out, after practically promising they would take on the Wildcats. The school hosts a press conference on October 5th, and Archbishop Murphy begins to gain national, and even international media coverage. The following week, Cedar Park Christian also forfeits, and the Wildcats lose their originally scheduled homecoming game. However, due to a homecoming delay due to weather, the dance is moved to the next week, when Olympic has committed to play the Wildcats. Crowds flock to Terry Ennis Stadium to watch Archbishop Murphy play for the first time in a month, and the Wildcats win the game 48-0. To end the regular season, Cedarcrest also forfeits.
District seeding places Archbishop Murphy in 3rd, and the Wildcats take on Burlington-Edison for a state tournament berth. The Tigers become the first team to put points on the board against the Wildcats in the 2016 season; 55-6 is the final score of the game. Archbishop Murphy marches on into state. North Kitsap falls 34-0 in the first round. Then the Wildcats get their revenge on Tumwater 48-10. Then they crush Lynden 52-14 for their golden ticket to the dome.
December 3rd, 2016
We’re in the Tacoma Dome. It’s 1pm and an anticipatory silence falls over the entire crowd as the National Anthem is played. There are rows upon rows of AMHS students, crammed together so close there’s no room to move in and out. Many students wear “Recruited by Christ” t-shirts; the senior Splash Zone wears them under their beach gear to honor QB Connor “Splash” Johnson.
It’s 1:04. Liberty kicks onside to begin the game. 55 seconds into the game, Johnson lofts the ball to Pimentel 60 yards for a touchdown. The student body erupts. 6:54 into the game, Montez runs 6 yards for a touchdown. 9:52 Johnson throws a 56 yarder to fellow senior Anfernee Gurley to add 7 points after the kick by Henderson.
It’s the second quarter. Montez turns a 3rd down into a touchdown 18:32 into the game. At 20:53, Kyler Gordon, who because of his offensive and defensive plays was obviously the games MVP, although an argument could be made for Johnson, adds another 7. With just 4 seconds until the half, Liberty puts their own 7 on the board.
It’s halftime. Archbishop Murphy is winning 35-7. The AMHS cheer squad concludes their new routine by all doing the splits. A team of 11 seniors competes in a tire rolling competition against Liberty, coming from behind to win.
It’s 2:35. This time Henderson kicks off the half, sending the ball out of the back of the endzone. 26:56 into the game Gordon adds 20 yards onto his 30 yard reception from Johnson for a touchdown. 33:12 Gurley adds 20 yards to a 50 yard pass from Johnson for his own touchdown. Gordon picks up a fumbled ball at the 38:43 mark and returns it for another touchdown. With under 5 minutes left in the game, Liberty scores again, but it’s over. The second string Wildcats step on the field, symbolizing their take over for next season. A beaming student body sings “We are the Champions” off key. Victory formation is taken. The student body bids goodbye to Liberty, but also to an insane football season. And then finally, they countdown the last ten seconds. 56-14. And the Wildcats are 2A State football champions for the first time in school history.
I’ve never been more proud to be a part of the Archbishop Murphy community. Through a turbulent season full of adversity, I’m proud to be at a school where we know how to stay level headed. I’m proud to say I’ve been here through this record book season, when the football team outscored opponents nearly 500-50. I’m proud to know Connor Johnson, someone who works hard on and off the field and deserves a lot more offers than he currently has. I’m proud to have known WSU commit Abe Lucas and his family since I was in kindergarten, someone who has never been ashamed of his faith and is a beast on the field. I’m proud to be in the same graduating class as some of the best linemen in the state. I’m proud to celebrate this victory with all of them. I am proud to be a Wildcat.