Wildcats open playoffs with pair of decisive victories | Football
Last updated 11/18/2016 at Noon
The rematch that many Archbishop Murphy football fans have been wanting since last year is set for Saturday, Nov 19.
The Wildcats, who are coming off playoff victories over Burlington-Edison and North Kitsap, travel to Tumwater to face that team that eliminated them in the 2015 2A state semifinals. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Tumwater District Stadium.
The Thunderbirds beat Archbishop Murphy 24-21, though the Wildcats were driving into Tumwater territory when time ran out.
“It’s going to be a heck of a challenge to go into their home stadium and have a playoff game at this juncture,” Archbishop Murphy coach Jerry Jensen said. “The kids are excited about the challenge.”
Like the Wildcats, Tumwater returns many of its core players from last season.
“It’ll be two programs that fought each other a year ago,” Jensen said.
Archbishop Murphy (11-0) is coming off back-to-back dominant performances. The Wildcats defeated Burlington-Edison 55-6 in a Nov. 5 district playoff and then shut out North Kitsap 34-0 in a Nov. 11 first round state playoff game.
Jensen attributed his defense’s success to “a product of our kids knowing their opponent and flying around and having fun.”
Senior quarterback Connor Johnson and the offense seem to be hitting their stride. Johnson completed 8 of 11 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns against Burlington-Edison and was 9 of 13 for 218 yards and three touchdowns in the North Kitsap contest.
“He’s been able to make some plays in the last couple of weeks,” Jensen said. “We’re hoping to build on that.”
Senior running back Anfernee Gurley rushed for 114 yards on six carries and scored one touchdown and senior running back Collin Montez had 12 carries for 76 yards and two touchdowns against the Tigers. Junior wide receiver Kyler Gordon caught four passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns.
Gordon caught four passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns against North Kitsap. Montez rushed for 153 yards on 13 carries.
Jensen described Montez as having a quiet and effective performance throughout the game. Gordon is a player the Wildcats will be relying on more as the playoffs continue.
“He’s a kid, as we enter the backstretch of the season, we need him to be playing to his full potential,” Jensen said.
Tumwater’s defense has recorded four shutouts this season and has allowed only 7 points in its two playoff games.
“Tumwater has a really good defense,” Jensen said. “Their front seven flies around.”