The Final Chapter

The clock is winding down. 7…6…5. On the sideline, there’s still a small sliver of hope that the Wildcats offense can pull off the impossible on this final play. 4…3. Sophomore quarterback Victor Gabalis snaps the ball. He launches it into the air…and it hits the field, uncaught. The Thunderbirds rush the field from their sideline, and just like that, the 2017 season, and, for some, four years of high school football comes to a close.

Over the past three years, the Archbishop Murphy Wildcats have faced the Tumwater Thunderbirds in the state semi-finals three times. In 2015, the last year semi-final games were played at the Tacoma Dome, the Thunderbirds held on to defeat the Wildcats 24-21. Last year, the Wildcats dominated the T-Birds, winning 48-10 and going on to win the state championship. This past Saturday, in their closest game of the season, AMHS fell to Tumwater 10-6.

For some, there are still a few years ahead. Time to grow and learn from the mistakes of this game. Maybe come back and beat Tumwater next year. But for the eleven seniors on this year’s roster, and the several others cheering on the team from the stands, Saturday marked the final chapter of Wildcat football.

This season, however, should be defined by so much more than how it ended. After losing several key players in last year’s graduating class, the Wildcats adapted to the players and skill sets they still had, finishing the season 1st in Conference and District, and 3rd in state for 2A.

The class of 2018 had an amazing season. Running back Ray Pimentel finished the season with over 2,000 yards and 28 touchdowns. Captain Ben Hines had 6 rushing touchdowns on offense, 93 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 1 defensive touchdown. Kyler Gordon, also a captain, had 1,616 all-purpose yards along with 5 interceptions across ten games. Rweha Munyagi, in his first and only season with the Wildcats, had 329 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. Kicker Omar Rodas made 2/3 field goals, 61 PATs, and kicked over 3,000 yards on kickoff this season.

In terms of future potential, the Wildcats also look good. Sophomore quarterback Victor Gabalis passed for 1,578 yards and completed 20 passing touchdowns, while only throwing 4 interceptions. Junior corner back and wide receiver Dillon Singh-Halpin had 325 receiving yards and 6 touchdown receptions. Defensively, the Cats also have outside linebacker Luke Riojas for one more year; this season he had 49 total tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 3 fumble recoveries.

The end of this season will sting for a bit. No one ever likes to go out on a loss. But that doesn’t mean this wasn’t a great season. To the seniors, don’t let how it ended define how you remember the rest of these 4 years. Be forever proud to be a Wildcat.

 

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Player Profile: Kyler Gordon

Senior Kyler Gordon received his very first D1 college offer last summer after only 2 seasons of high school ball. Now, he’s accumulated a total of 11, including offers from Notre Dame, Stanford, and University of Washington. Oh, and all of them are full ride.

Gordon didn’t start playing football until he was 10, when his friend’s family introduced him to the sport. Since then, he’s played “every position”, including running back, wide receiver, quarter back, and defensive back while in high school. “Colleges want me to play corner back,” he said.

Over 4 years as a member of the Archbishop Murphy varsity football team, Gordon has accumulated 715 rushing yards, 1,610 receiving yards, 4 defensive touchdowns, 9 rushing touchdowns, and 18 receiving touchdowns. According to ESPN, he’s the 3rd top recruit in Washington, and is 29th corner back recruit in the nation.

Gordon’s biggest inspirations to become a better athlete are his dad and cousin.

His favorite Murphy traditions include going to mass before each game together in the Chapel, and praying the Hail Mary on the field.

“My goal for myself is 14 interceptions and for the team I want a repeat of the state championship,” he said. So far he has 2 interceptions this season, and hasn’t even played in the last 3 games. In terms of taking the state title again, the Wildcats have 2 more regular season games before diving into districts.

The Wildcat football team returns home for Senior Night against the Cedarcrest Red Wolves on October 27th.

Consistency: AMHS Football Check-In

The Archbishop Murphy football team is currently 5-1 overall and undefeated in conference as we inch towards the end of the 2017 regular season. This year’s story is so far one of moderate consistency–both good and bad.

Senior running back Ray Pimentel has been the Wildcat’s shining example of positive  consistency this season. In Friday’s game against the Granite Falls Tigers, Pimentel had 21 carries, 10 first downs, and 3 touchdowns, consistent numbers when compared to his stats from the last 5 games. He’s currently leading the league with 965 rushing yards; he averages 9 yards per carry and 96.5 per game.  Pimentel has 15 recorded touchdowns.

Another consistent player for the Wildcats this season has been the rookie kicker, senior Omar Rodas. He has currently kicked an astounding 1,324 kickoff yards, made 29 out of 34 PAT attempts, and has completed 2 field goals, including a 51 yard one in the 3rd quarter during the match up against the Tigers.

However, numerous penalty calls per game have been plaguing the Wildcats since the start of the season. Against Granite Falls, the team had 8 penalties called against them, mostly holding and false start calls. That’s on top of the near 20 other penalties called in the last 3 games. Hopefully coaches can help resolve the holding issues as the post season creeps ever nearer.

Injuries have also been a negative consistency this season for Archbishop Murphy. Star players Kyler Gordon and Ben Hines were both out this Friday against Granite Falls with injuries. Senior Emmanuel Oshuoa is out for the season after having ACL surgery this summer. Other minor injuries have affected other players, leaving them out for a game or two. Healthy players are the key to success, and the Wildcats won’t be playing at their best level until all their members are healthy.

None of this is to say that the Archbishop Murphy boys can’t handle what’s coming at them as we look into the rest of the season. Part of playing a sport, especially a team one, is that you’re always improving and working together to better yourself and the team. Of course, the Wildcats are also lucky enough to have a phenomenal coaching staff.

Next Friday (10/13), the Wildcats will take on Cedar Park Christian in their first away game of the season at Juanita High School.

 

Player Profile: Victor Gabalis

Sophomore Victor Gabalis began playing quarterback in 8th grade because he had the chance to start and wanted to “take the opportunity”. 2 years later, he’s QB1 for Archbishop Murphy’s varsity team and is currently leading the league with *384 passing yards.

In somewhat a turn of events, Gabalis ended up at AMHS after playing for the Cedarcrest Jr football team in Duvall since he was 10. “I chose Murphy because I wanted to be at a Catholic school that would provide good education for college,” Gabalis said. Cedarcrest is also a member of the Cascade Conference like AMHS.

Gabalis’ pre-game ritual includes the team dinner, of course, and listening to “Carry On” by Kid Ink. “My favorite team dinner is spaghetti,” he shared.

During the game, Gabalis is all business. So far this season he’s had 22 completions, 4 passing touchdowns, and only 2 interceptions, a stat he’s made a goal out of not having change. He averages 17.5 yards per completion and 96.0 yards per game.

Gabalis hopes starting this season will help him get early looks for college football and that he’ll be able to carry his team to a state title, just like last year’s quarterback, Connor Johnson, who also wore the number 11, did.

Victor Gabalis will lead the Wildcat offense tonight (Friday 9/29) in Archbishop Murphy’s homecoming game against Sultan High School. Come to the game and see his talent for yourself!

*all stats are according to maxpreps.com

Player Profile: Matt Welter

Senior tennis superstar Matt Welter starts his warm ups before each match by listening to “I Am A God” by Kanye West. Although it may seem silly, obviously it works. Matt’s record so far this season is 3-2, and his 2 losses have been against the best players in the league.

When he’s on the court however, his record doesn’t matter to him. “I’m always analyzing the previous play and my opponent so I can make my next shot be a winner,” Matt said.  To him, “it’s all about strategy.”

During this past off season, Matt prepared by playing year round for the Mill Tennis Club at the champs level. He also played in USTA champs tournaments, where he competed against some of the best players in the state and even some from across the country. ‘

As a singles player, Matt enjoys the fact that he “has no one to blame or praise except for [himself].” This season, he hopes to take 1st or 2nd in districts and qualify for state. If he makes it to state, he wants to be “very competitive and finish in the top 4.”

Matt Welter and the rest of the Wildcat tennis team take on South Whidbey today (Thursday, 9/28), so wish them luck!

Player Profile: Gabi Koch

In a district game against Liberty High School during the 2016 season, Wildcat’s assistant soccer coach Mike Boswell turned to Gabi Koch and said two words: hammer down. “I knew exactly what he meant,” Koch remembered, “That’s my absolute favorite soccer memory hands down.”

This season, Koch, a junior, is a captain hoping to get her team back to the same place they were at when last season concluded by leading through example. “This season I want to help my teammates on and off the field so that we can get right back to the final four of the state tournament,” Koch said.

Koch started playing soccer when she was only 5 years old, but it didn’t become her main sport until she was 8. Now, along with playing for the Archbishop Murphy varsity team, she plays for the Greater Seattle Surf team in her age division. For both teams, she plays center attacking midfielder her “absolute favorite position.”

Koch’s motivation for continuing to better her game is truly inspiring. “My biggest motivator would be my close family friend Jake Eastwood,” answered Koch. At age 13, Jake was forced to have one of his legs amputated due to an osteosarcoma. “He’s still one of the most athletic and uplifting people I know,” Koch added, “Knowing him and his story will always inspire me.”

Watch Gabi Koch take the field with the Wildcats at home this season at Terry Ennis Stadium.

Player Profile: Caroline Kowalchuk

Senior Caroline Kowalchuk has felt at home in the water since the 3rd grade, when she started swimming competitively for West Coast Aquatics. Now, she’s in her 4th year as a member of the AMHS girls swim team and her second year as captain.

Part of being a captain means putting the team’s needs before your own, and Kowalchuk is a great example of this idea. Her goal for this season is “that everyone swims their best times and comes out of the season feeling stronger and more accomplished than at the beginning of the season.”

A beast in the pool, Kowalchuk “swim[s] all the events at meets.” At state however, she says the plan is for her to swim the 200 meter freestyle along with either the 100m free (her favorite event) or the 500m free.

Last year at state, Kowalchuk placed 6th in the 500m free and 7th in the 200m free, setting a school record in the 200 with a time of 2:01.81.

When it comes to college, Kowalchuk would like to swim, but says it depends on where she goes. “Academics are my first priority, and if swimming helps, then I’ll continue to swim,” she added.

Catch Caroline Kowalchuk in the pool this season by checking out the season schedule and heading out to a meet!