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UPDATE | Archbishop Murphy runs over South Whidbey, 41-7
LANGLEY — Archbishop Murphy High School beat South Whidbey 41-7 Friday night at South Whidbey High School.
The top-ranked 2A Wildcats finished with four rushing touchdowns and two interceptions returned for scores.
“They’re good, they’re really physical,” said Falcon head coach Andy Davis. “They run the ball well, they defend the run well.”
South Whidbey was without six starters due to athletic code violations. The players, who were not identified by the coaching staff, are suspended indefinitely.
“I came in not knowing how our kids would respond to the stuff we’d gone through,” Davis explained.
“We have people in our community who enable our students, whether they’re athletes or non-athletes. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
With South Whidbey missing starting players, Archbishop Murphy struck first in the first quarter on a rushing touchdown from Alex Galgano.
Galgano, a sophomore running back, had a six-yard run with help from a block downfield on South Whidbey senior TJ Russell. The rest of the night belonged to the Wildcats’ running game and defense.
“We need to work on our passing,” said Wildcats head coach Dave Ward. “That’s just something we haven’t executed as cleanly as we wanted to.”
Sophomore running back Morgan Masanda rushed for two Wildcat touchdowns. He hit a left- side gap and cruised in for a 14-0 lead after the PAT to end the first quarter.
In the second quarter the Wildcats defense broke through the Falcon line and rushed quarterback Avery Buechner. Buechner forced a pass to the right side but was intercepted by Austin VanderWel, and the pick was returned for a touchdown for a 21-0 lead.
“I felt like the interception by Austin [VanderWel] allowed us to sub a little more,” Ward said.
There were heads-up defensive plays by the Falcons, as well. South Whidbey’s defense forced a fumble that was recovered by Colton Justus.
“They blitz the gaps harder than we’ve seen,” Ward said.
The Falcons couldn’t break through the Wildcat defense, though, and ran out the clock into halftime trailing 21-0.
“That was probably the best half we’ve played all season,” said Falcon senior and team captain Evan Thompson.
The Wildcats opened it up in the second half.
Archbishop Murphy lineman Julius Tevaga blocked a pass by Buechner, then pulled the ball in and returned it 63 yards. Tevaga is listed at 6 feet, 2 inches and 300 pounds. The returned interception gave Archbishop a 28-0 lead in the third quarter.
Masanda’s second score was also his longest with a 50-yard burst up the middle with 3:39 left in the third quarter.
“Morgan ran really well tonight,” Ward said. “He broke some tackles. He’s tough to bring down.”
The only points for South Whidbey came late in the fourth quarter with both teams putting in backup players. South Whidbey brought in sophomore quarterback Josh Bishop.
“The game was over in terms of the score,” Davis said. “There’s no sense in leaving Avery in against their JV.”
Bishop passed to Aaron Curfman on the right side, then Curfman broke a tackle and cut inside to shake off a defender at the five-yard line for a 35-yard touchdown pass. The Falcons score brought the score to 35-7 with 6:44 remaining.
“I tell [the team] to make every play like a mini game and to win that game,” Thompson said. “Don’t look at the scoreboard and just keep playing all four quarters.”
That gave Archbishop plenty of time for one last score.
On the 14-yard line, the Wildcat sophomore running back Ricky Gordon hit the right side corner for a 14-yard touchdown. After a botched point-after try, the final score, 41-7, was in the books.
Still, 41 points is the second lowest point total the Wildcats have scored this season —behind the season opener of 37 points on the road against Ellensburg.
Despite being undermanned and outgunned, Davis saw things he liked Friday night.
“Years back, we wouldn’t have competed like that,” Davis said.
“I think this game, the best thing this could measure, is how we persevered through some adversity this week,” Davis said. “We talk about measuring our success and our failures without the scoreboard.”
The Falcons look to regroup against King’s Friday in Shoreline.
King’s is 4-0 this season and is averaging 49.