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.

 

TNF–Wildcat Edition

Thursday Night Football isn’t something you normally see in high school. But on Thursday, August 31,  four days after starting school, the AMHS student body took to the stands as the Wildcat football team took to the field. Despite it being a school night, the bleachers were packed–and all of it was broadcast live on ROOT Sports.

Following a season where all but one team in the Cascade Conference forfeited against the Wildcats, who ended up winning the 2A state title, coaches, fans, fellow football players, and news crews were excited to see what this year’s team would dish out in their home opener. Garfield High School was happy to take on AMHS for the televised game; they had their own share of media coverage when they knelt for the National Anthem during the 2016 season.

The story about this game, however, isn’t about the news crews, or the numbers, or even how two teams united to play football. No, the story of this game is how the young and old Wildcats came together to win their first football game.

After losing several key players at the end of last year, Coach Jerry Jensen had some positions he needed to fill. Most importantly, quarterback.

As second string QB last year behind alumni Connor Johnson, sophomore Victor Gabalis only saw limited reps. On Thursday, however, you could hardly tell. In his debut as starting quarterback, Gabalis completed several passes, including a 30 yard one to senior Ray Pimentel. He commanded the field with composure and ease in such an intense game.

Other freshman and sophomores that received substantial playing time included Zion Robinson (so.,LT/DE), Koli Faaiu (fr.,T/G/DE), and Josh McCarron (fr., special teams).

Obviously though, they weren’t alone on the field. The Wildcats still have several returning star players, including seniors Ben Hines, Ray Pimentel, and Kyler Gordon, to serve as mentors.

“We’re trying to teach [the younger players] to not get too big and out of the game because they get really caught up and worried about what’s going on,” senior captain Ben Hines said. “We want them to just play from their hearts and how they practice, and really just to calm down.”

Senior kicker Omar Rodas, taking over for the graduated Ryan Henderson, also deserves credit. In his first ever football game, he made all but one of his PAT attempts.

Thursday night’s game was about the meshing of old and new. It was about throwing new combinations into a game and seeing if they worked. Even though it was a win, it was also a learning experience, one that benefited both the young and old players.

The Wildcats have a long season ahead of them, with lots more learning to do. But Thursday’s 37-18 win is a sign that they’re heading in the right direction.

 

 

Wildcat Soccer Team tops Greyhounds in 1st Round of State

On a gray afternoon, the Wildcat boy’s soccer team took on the Grandview Greyhounds for the first round of the 2A state tournament. Parents, siblings back from college, and classmates packed the stands in what turned out to be a typical AMHS boy’s soccer game for this year: a blowout. Every player on the roster received playing time, and the Wildcats won the game 6-1.

The first goal for the Wildcats came from junior Sam Johnson off the right side of the field, 6 minutes into the game. This was quickly followed by a goal from Isaac Feeney, also  a junior, in the 11th minute. The only other action in the first half came in the form of 2 yellow cards; one for a Greyhound and one for senior Mitchell Lovell.

The second half provided more action.

Only a minute after kickoff, senior Chase Whittaker volleyed in a beautiful goal from the top of the D-ring. In similar fashion to the first half, 5 minutes later (46′) Matt Williams (sr) bypassed 2 defenders to add one more to the scoreboard. 4-0. The next 2 goals came from Grandview, however only 1 of those goals was for their team. In the 52nd minute, Williams took another ball up top to the Greyhounds’ goal and, after shooting it, a Grandview player helped finish it into the goal. The Greyhounds did put one of their own in the AMHS net though in minute 52 after a free kick and some confusion in the box, keeping it from being another Wildcat shutout. The final goal of the game was an absolute laser by Feeney from the 20 yard line to the bottom left corner of the goal.

With a 6-1 win, the Wildcats advance to the 2A State Quarter-Finals for the 3rd year in a row.

The Wildcats are currently undefeated and have a goals for to goals against ratio of 18 to 1. That’s phenomenal, in case you were wondering.

 

Beautiful Day for Baseball 

Parents, grandparents, and students alike filled the small section of bleachers at Roman Miller Field Friday afternoon as the Wildcats took on the Sultan Turks. Over the loud speaker boomed the steady voice of history teacher Tyler McLaughlin. As other spring sports practices ended, the stands filled more. It was a beautiful afternoon for baseball. 

Senior Travis Coop took the mound as the starting pitcher for the Wildcats. He, and the rest of his team, were sporting their brand new red jerseys. The Sultan Turks prepped for their turn to bat. 

I could list every hit and run of this game, but that would 1) take too long and 2) be pretty pointless. So instead I’m going to focus on a short recap of the 3rd inning, which was, in my opinion, the most exciting. 

During the top of the inning senior short stop and Seattle University commit Connor O’Brien had a very well executed double play, knocking out runners heading to 1st and 2nd, and sending the Turks off the field. 

Josh Madison (sr), O’Brien, Brandon King (so), Gabe Feliciano (jr) and one more player each added a run for the Wildcats during the 3rd inning. 

If you’re planning on coming out to watch some AMHS baseball, I suggest getting to the field early. And if you’re not planning on going to a baseball game, you should change your plans. 

The Quiet Dedication of Track 

The last time I was at a track meet was 8th grade. It was one of those track meets that all the Catholic school PE teachers in the Everett area make all the kids participate in, and half of those kids don’t take it seriously at all while the other half take it way too seriously. It was loud, chaotic, and crazy to be at. Because of this, I was pleasantly surprised by the quiet calm that was the Granite Falls track this afternoon as they hosted both Archbishop Murphy and Cedar Park Christian.

As I approached the team, I could overhear Coach Paul Turner talking strategy with 1600 meter runners Mackenzie Ryan (jr), Megan Dorney (jr), and Alaina Hines (sr). On the track, Caroline Adams (sr) and Tia Asher (so) practiced handoffs for their relay alongside Barrett Floyd (jr) and Jacob Lucas (sr). At the opposite end, Paul Schireman (sr) was prepping for his first time competing in high jump.

After a few events, I moved to the fence and waited for the excitement to pick up. The energy started to pick up as the girls 1600m race was called to the line; this was the race Coach Paul had been talking strategy for. Ryan, Dorney, and Hines all stepped to the line ready for the 4 laps that lay ahead of them. With the sound of the start gun, it quickly became evident what the strategy was: every 200m whichever one of the three was in the back would snake to the front in order to save energy for the last lap. Ryan ended up coming in first, with Hines and Dorney right on her heels.

The meet continued to pick up as the boys 4×100 meters team stepped up for their turn. After a quick high five given to me by Anfernee Gurley, he, along with his teammates, Max Kelleher, Schireman, and Raymond Pimentel, took their places around the track. It was only them and a team from Cedar Park Christian. Before I get to the actual race, I want to say one thing: I was very aware all four of these boys were very fast. I was still shocked by their race. Right from the start it was clear that CPC had no chance. Even finishing with a time of 45.22, though, the boys still weren’t satisfied. “We need to work on our handoffs. We’re trying to cut our time down to 43 seconds,” Schireman told me later. 

The afternoon only got better from there. Floyd won his heat of the boys 400m, Gurley and Holly Sudol (so) snagged the boys and girls 100m respectively, and Teresa Barron (sr) took the 3200m (wow) with ease. For the field events, Schireman and Sudol both clinched high jump, Ryan Kenny (fr) won long jump, and Regan Krueger took 2nd in pole vault. 

Also, a shoutout to one of my closest friends, Livia Haynes (jr), for giving me the honor of letting me wear her lettermans jacket and for PRing in the 800m. 

I had a great time at the meet; every single person in the team made me feel welcomed and appreciated. It really is a bummer more people don’t take the time to go out and watch track meets because it was clear to me that every member of the team has dedication. Dedication to making themselves better, helping their teammates get better, and being a good sport to their competitors. My suggestion is that if you have free time, go. Watch your friends run their race, even if it lasts only 45 seconds. I’d be happy to drive anytime.