EVERETT — Archbishop Murphy looked like the football squads of the last 10 years against South Whidbey.
The Wildcats ran around, past and over the Falcons in a 46-15 victory Friday night.
“Tonight we struggled a little bit because we weren’t sure what to expect,” said Falcon senior fullback Aaron Curfman, one of the team’s co-captains.
After a tumultuous few weeks with two coaching changes and back-to-back blowout losses, the Wildcats looked every bit like a perennial state title contender. Unfortunately for the 40-plus Falcon fans who came over the ferry and rode the “rooter” bus, the Wildcats’ resurgence was at the Falcons’ expense.
South Whidbey’s chance at an upset quickly turned into a rout. A pair of 40-yard catches, a 76-yard rushing score and a returned interception fueled the Wildcats’ early lead before they turned to inside runs and wracked up time of possession. The Falcons were held to one touchdown in the first half.
Falcon junior Nick Bennett had the ball ripped from his arm on the opening kick return and recovered by a pile of Wildcats. Camden Buchanan threw one of only three passes to a wide-open Conner Longoria on the first play, before the Falcons tackled him at their 1-yard line. Wildcat senior Alex Galgano punched it in for the touchdown and Mason Bailey kick in the extra point to lead 7-0 after only a minute had ticked off the clock.
“We kind of came off a little passive and that chewed us out,” Curfman said.
Archbishop Murphy scored again one minute later after forcing South Whidbey to punt. The Wildcats scored on their first play of the drive when Hans VanderWel ran up the middle, cut right and hit the sideline 76 yards for a touchdown. On their next possession, the Wildcats stormed downfield on a 49-yard run by Galgano, which set up a 15-yard rushing score for him as he ran in untouched. Bailey missed the extra point attempt, but Archbishop Murphy still led 20-0 with four minutes left in the first quarter.
Bennett atoned for his earlier fumble with a 34- yard kick return. French connected with senior receiver Cameron Coupe on a five-yard pass to reach the mid field. South Whidbey called two more pass plays that resulted in an incompletion and a two-yard loss. That set up French’s 55-yard touchdown run after he dropped back to throw again, then tucked the ball into his left arm and sprinted toward the sideline where he turned upfield and beat the Wildcats’ defense. Coupe booted in the extra point to trail 20-7.
In the second quarter, Archbishop Murphy tacked on three more scores. Wildcat Ricky Gordon ran in a four-yard score halfway through the period. On South Whidbey’s next drive, the Falcons were in Wildcat territory after a penalty, but backup quarterback Parker Collins’ pass was intercepted by Galgano and returned for a touchdown.
French returned to the backfield for South Whidbey on its ensuing possession. French attempted a deep pass that was intercepted in Wildcat territory. Buchanan passed to Longoria for his second completion of the night on a deep throw before Longoria was tackled at the 3-yard line. South Whidbey’s defense stiffened and forced Archbishop Murphy into negative yardage until Gordon ran in his second score from six yards out as the Wildcats led 39-7 at halftime.
Little time was wasted before the Wildcats scored after the break. VanderWel ripped a 53-yard touchdown run along the sideline to lead 46-7, Archbishop Murphy’s final points of its homecoming night.
South Whidbey attempted a pair of field goals, but both missed. One was scratched on a penalty and moved Coupe, the Falcons’ kicker, closer, but he missed wide right.
A safety by junior Beck Davis on the Wildcats’ backup quarterback put some life back into the Falcons.
“We just have to be more physical at the start of the game,” Davis said.
South Whidbey couldn’t convert on fourth-and-short at the end of the ensuing drive after the free kick. With most of its starters out, Curfman scored a final touchdown on a 22-yard run.
“It was a must-do attitude,” Curfman said. “My sophomore year and my junior year I was the guy to score against Archbishop Murphy. I couldn’t not score against them my senior year.”
On the Wildcats’ final drive, the Falcons recovered a fumble near their own end zone. South Whidbey put together a long drive, but time expired to give Archbishop Murphy its first conference victory of the season.