Fall Sports Wrap-Up: The Lessons We’ve Learned 

Archbishop Murphy’s 2016 fall sports season was easily one of the most exciting in school history. Every sport saw a state berth, and three saw top 3 rankings. But this season was more than just competition, it was learning about ourselves, our teammates, and our school. 

Football: Adversity makes us better. 

I’m sure a recap of everything the football team went through this year is unnecessary, as it was broadcast and talked about internationally. Through all of the season’s drama however, the team grew even closer and more focused. And in the end, they won Archbishop Murphy their first 2A state title which was exactly what they set out to do, proving that adversity can make us better. 

Girls Soccer: Never stop believing. 

As a member of the team, I’m allowed to say that at the beginning of the season, none of us thought we’d make it to districts. The idea of us going to state was something to laugh about. But as the season went on, and the team made adjustments, we started winning more and making comebacks that seemed impossible. In the final stretch from districts to state, we didn’t stop believing in ourselves and each other and we ended up placing 3rd in the state competition. 

Volleyball: Things don’t always work out the way we expect them to, and that’s okay. 

Going into the 2016 season, the Wildcat volleyball team was a top contender for the state title. With such a stellar team, it seemed inevitable. But in the end, after going undefeated the entire season, the team lost in the semi-finals to Tumwater, who went on to win the state title. After the loss, however, they bounced back and still placed third, the highest AMHS volleyball has placed since 2009 and three places higher than they placed in 2015. Things didn’t necessarily work out the way they, and almost everyone else, expected them to, but it worked out in the end and they made the school proud. 

Cross Country & Girls Swim: Hard Work Pays Off 

The Wildcat cross country team sent two runners to the state competition this year, junior Josh Rauvola and senior Teresa Barron. Both pack difficult school schedules and Josh has a history of injury.  But due to the work they put in throughout the season, the pair were both top competitors in the state meet, Josh placing 2nd and Teresa 29th out of over 100. For girls swim, junior Caroline Kowalchuck’s hard work throughout the school season and her club season also paid off; she placed 7th in the 200 free and 6th in the 500 free. 

Boys Tennis: Effort and dedication is key. 

The Archbishop Murphy boys tennis team is easily the proudest team at the school. Although not the winningest, members never talk bad about their team or the game and always give 100% to the commitment they made. They teach us each year that being dedicated to your sport and putting effort into it makes it more enjoyable and builds a brotherhood. 

2016 AMHS Football: The Season for the Record Books 

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. 

July/August 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. 

September 

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. 

October 

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. 

November 

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. 

Archbishop Murphy defeats Lynden for State Championship berth 

For the first time in 5 years, the Archbishop Murphy football team will play for the state championship. The last time the Wildcats played for the state title was in 2011, but they fell short, placing 2nd. Archbishop Murphy has not won a state title since 2003, when Terry Ennis was still coaching and the school played in the 1A division. 

But things are much different now. Although still small enough to play 1A, football, along with all the other sports teams at AMHS, plays in the 2A division. 5 teams forfeited games with safety concerns, although a serious injury has yet to be sustained by any team that has played the varsity football team. The team has received international media coverage, and the school hosted its first ever press conference featuring several major news teams. Archbishop Murphy has outscored opponents 412-30. Now there’s just one team standing in the way of Archbishop Murphy holding the 2A state football title for the first time in history. 

In Saturday’s  semi-final game, the Wildcats defeated the Lynden Lions 52-14. Last year, the Wildcats lost their semi-final game to Tumwater, who they beat in this year’s quarter finals 48-10. Prior to Saturday’s game Lynden had only one loss. 

Ryan Henderson kicked off to start the game, sending it out of the end zone as usual. On their first play of the game, the Lions attempted a pass, but it was blocked by AMHS junior Kyler Gordon. Only 1 of Lynden’s 8 first down pass attempts in the game would be completed. In the first quarter, the Wildcats D-line had 3 sacks, two of which came from senior WSU commit Abe Lucas. The first quarter also saw 2 touchdowns for Archbishop Murphy, one on a 6 yard run by Colin Montez and the other on a 10 yard pass from QB Connor Johnson to Anfernee Gurley (s/o to the 2nd period anatomy squad). 

The second quarter was full of action, starting early on with a Lynden fumble in the endzone recovered by Gurley. At the end of that drive, Gurley would catch a 38 yard pass from Johnson and finish it for a total 58 yard touchdown. It was after this touchdown that junior Drew Carlton mentioned that it was the closest *home game we’d had all year, with the score being only 21-0 in the second quarter.  Henderson was instructed on the following kickoff to “kick it to the parking lot”; it ended up being his only playable kick of the game and was returned nearly 70 yards before being stopped and brought back due to a penalty. Later in the quarter, with just over a minute left to play until halftime, the Lions scored on a 20 yard pass. The Wildcats bounced back in 3 plays though, scoring on a 16 yard pass from Johnson to Gordon. 

The second half started off strong; Archbishop Murphy scored on second down on another pass from Johnson to Gordon, this time for 44 yards. Connor scored another touchdown later in the quarter on his own off of a QB sneak.

Lynden scored early in the 4th to bring the score to 14-42. Again, the Wildcats responded soon after getting the ball back, scoring off of a 13 yard pass to Gurley. After that, second string began to be subbed onto the field for Archbishop Murphy, and the score remained stagnant at 49-14 until just minutes before the end of the game when Henderson came on to kick a 56 yard field goal. After that, the Lynden Lions had one last play before turning over the ball with a fumble. The Wildcats took the field in victory formation to the cheers of an excited crowd. 

Now all that stands between Archbishop Murphy and that 2A state title is the Liberty Patriots. The Patriots are currently undefeated, like the Wildcats, although they were coined the underdogs in their semi final game Saturday against Ellensburg which ended 35-26. Next weeks 1pm game at the Tacoma Dome will be one for the record books. Hopefully, it will end well for the Wildcats, who have had a whole season for the record books.

Girls Soccer Overcomes Burlington-Edison in OT 

It’s halftime. 

We stand as a team on the field, shivering and angry. We are losing 2-0 to a team we have been told we should beat. A team we know we can beat. But something just isn’t right. 

“Sometimes it takes a little while for us to get the hang of things; the emotion everyone is feeling, the surface we are playing on, these are the things that make each game different,” senior captain Caroline Adams commented. 

The team takes the field for the second half, with some slight adjustments. But those adjustments make all the difference; it’s like watching a different team play. Even so, we still aren’t  quite at our potential, that maximum we know we can reach. 

Until sophomore left wing Lexie Klaudt found the back of the net. “Once that first goal went in, everyone realized we had an awesome opportunity to pull off a major upset.” her teammate, Emily Schwartz, said. 

Klaudt herself also added, “The momentum of the game changed. I knew that we were still in it and all we would have to do was give 110% and play our game.” The sophomore has suffered multiple injuries in the previous two games but when asked about them she merely said, “Pain is a mentality. I was hesitant about playing, but I wanted to give all that I had for this team.”

The tieing goal came from Adams, and the Wildcats held it out to end regulation 2-2. 

And there we were again, standing on the field, shivering, basically in a 0-0 game, needing a golden goal to live another day. For the seniors on the team, motivation came from the fact that this could’ve been their last game as Wildcats. 

Building off the momentum gained in the second half, the Wildcats took the field again, playing the way we had been waiting for them to: fast, aggressive, and disciplined. All we needed was one goal. 

With only a couple minutes left in the first overtime session, Klaudtt hit the net off a ball from Adams to end the game, 3-2. Everyone jumped from the bench, screaming, crying, and laughing as we hugged each other, knowing we survived to see another day. 

Girls soccer lives on Thursday at Liberty High School, 5pm vs Sehome. 

The Return of Wildcat Football  

After a long month without Wildcat football, one team finally stepped up to play Archbishop Murphy. The coaches and players at Olympic High School knew there were no unusual safety concerns in playing AMHS, and wanted to improve by playing good competition. We have the utmost respect for Olympic High School, their football team, their parents, and their fans. 

So on a bright October Saturday afternoon, the two teams took the field at Terry Ennis Stadium at Archbishop Murphy High School in front of hundreds of people and several news crews. The Wildcat student body was in full blackout,  led as always by the senior “Hype Squad”, despite the fact that homecoming was only hours away. There was singing, courtesy of Matthew Pabisz, laughs, and an overall excitement about getting to see our peers, classmates, and friends take the field again. 

Senior kicker Ryan Henderson proved once more that he is easily the best kicker in the state, sending nearly all of his kickoffs out the back of the endzone. He also kicked two field goals for 50 and 54 yards. 

Anfernee Gurley and Collin Montez wowed us all for the fourth time, each with 2 touchdowns and over 100 yards. Connor Johnson threw 2 touchdowns to Gurley and junior Kyler Gordon. Gordon also had a rushing touchdown. 

Defensively, Abe Lucas had (at least) 2 sacks. Ben Hines knocked down an Olympic pass and Montez recovered the ball for a turnover.

It definitely felt amazing to watch an AMHS football game again, and I’m positive the team felt amazing playing. 

The final score of the game was 48-0, bringing the Wildcats to 218-0 this season. Archbishop Murphy has one more week off due to a forfeit before heading into the 2A District tournament. 

Boys Tennis Brings the Heat 

In the absence of football, the Archbishop Murphy community has had to fulfill  sports watching needs in other ways. There’s the currently undefeated girls volleyball team, the star studded girls soccer team, and the incredibly fast cross country team…..but none of those quite have the male dominant, intense feel of football. What does you might ask? Archbishop Murphy Boys Tennis. 

Led by coaches Tyler McLaughlin and Chris Becher, the Wildcats took on South Whidbey today at home. In a last minute decision, I chose to attend this match. And let me tell you, I wasn’t expecting the level of intensity and seriousness the tennis boys brought. 

I don’t know much about tennis, but according to junior girls tennis player Hannah Beyer, tennis is, “hard to learn, easy to master.” As we watched senior duo Jack McClincy and Riley Quinton play the court, it was obvious by their skill they were not first timers. And on either side of them, fellow senior duo Trent Mosier and Robbie de Mello and junior duo Matt Welter and Jack Glynn also showed their capabilities, bringing the heat against South Whidbey. Throughout the six courts, there were shouts of both excitement and frustration during gameplay. 

These matches were not played in the same carefree manner I had seen on the girls team last spring. No, the AMHS boys tennis team plays to win. And although it may not have been their evening for winning, they played some hardcore tennis, and, might I add, looked good doing it in their classy black and white polos. 

Watching the AMHS Boys Tennis team play today definitely gave me a greater appreciation for the sport.  I’m excited to watch #MoreTennisTennis. 

The Powerhouses of AMHS Volleyball 

The 2016 Archbishop Murphy volleyball team bears many familiar faces from the past few years. Currently undefeated both within league and out, the Wildcat ladies seem poised for success this season. Let’s take a closer look at the some of the powerhouse players of AMHS volleyball. 

The Haywards 

Sam (’17) and Natalie (’18) Hayward have been in the spotlight for Archbishop Murphy volleyball since their freshman years. Last year, both were named all-conference and Sam was named co-MVP. On Tuesday night against Cedarcrest Sam had 15 kills and Natalie had 3 kills, 27 assists, and 2 aces. Sam has also committed to play for Nevada next fall. 

Jaime Cymbaluk

Jaime (’17), an ever bubbly presence on the AMHS campus, has already made a verbal commitment to play at Point Loma Nazarene University. The past three years she’s been named all-conference as an outside hitter, and Tuesday against Cedarcrest she had 6 aces and 7 kills. 

Gaby Flake 

Gaby (’17) makes her happy personality constantly known on the court in between points, but also brings the heat in the libero position. Last year she was named all-conference second team. 

The rest of the team including Olivia Lawson (’17), Claire Doud (’19), Payten Bradley (’18), Emma Feeney (’19), and Caroline Kramer  (’19) all put work in on the court to contribute to each Wildcat win. 

Last year the girls took the conference and league titles and took 6th place in the state. Coach Brandon Jones was named Coach of the Year.

With a strong team of returning players, another run at state sure seems within the Wildcat’s future.