Archbishop Murphy dominates its first two opponents | Football
Last updated 9/15/2017 at Noon
The Archbishop Murphy football team is picking up right where it left off.
The defending 2A state champions opened the season with a pair of dominating victories. The Wildcats defeated Garfield 37-18 in the season opener on Thursday, Aug. 31 and then dispatched Bishop Blanchet 54-7 in a non-conference game Friday, Sept. 8, at Archbishop Murphy High School.
Wildcats coach Jerry Jensen saw some major areas of improvement in week two’s matchup with the Braves.
“The kids were really focused on the Garfield game. But they made some errors that we needed to clean up this week,” Jensen said.
Archbishop Murphy accomplished those goals with a crisp offense attack. Kyler Gordon rushed for 137 yards on seven carries with one touchdown and Ray Pimentel had 101 yards on eight carries and two TDs. Ben Hines ran for 76 yards on eight carries and scored twice.
The Wildcats were able to put their skill players in space where they excelled.
“Ray Pimental showed his explosiveness on Friday night,” Jensen said. “We’ve got to continue to try and get him work. Ben’s a bruising back. It was definitely a game between the tackles. We came into the game trying to concentrate on our run game. If the opportunity presented itself, we were going to take advantage of the pass. We were able to complete a couple of passes.”
Sophomore quarterback Victor Gabalis completed 2 of 10 passes for 124 yards. Both completions to Rwehabura Munyagi and Gordon turned into touchdowns of 25 and 99 yards, respectively.
The Wildcats’ defense limited Bishop Blanchet to only 11 yards on the ground and 93 total yards.
“That’s our linebackers. They’re kind of the ones who lead the charge,” Jensen said. “If we can stop the run, I feel we will be successful. The boys were able to do that.”
Hines, a linebacker, led the Wildcats with six tackles and five assists. Teammate Dillon Signh Halpin returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown.
Archbishop Murphy took an early lead against Garfield. The Wildcats scored three touchdowns in the first quarter for a 21-0 advantage. The Bulldogs cut the lead to 21-6 in the second quarter before Archbishop Murphy put the game out of reach with two more touchdowns in the third quarter and a field goal in the final period.
Pimental rushed for 80 yards on 21 carries and scored two touchdowns. Hines had 55 yards on eight carries with one touchdown and Gordon ran for 32 yards on five carries with one touchdown. Gordon also caught four passes for 47 yards and one score. Gabalis completed 6 of 12 passes for 96 yards and one touchdown.
The Wildcats’ offense, however, fumbled five times and threw one interception. Two of the fumbles were deep in Bulldog territory and thwarted potential scoring drives.
“I was really happy how quickly we came out. Our kids were focused and that showed in the first quarter,” Jensen said.
Taking the 21-0 lead was important, Jensen said, considering how potentially explosive Garfield’s athletes were.
“We had an opportunity to really put them away,” he added. “We shot ourselves in the foot.”
In his first varsity start, Gabalis did everything that was asked of him by the coaching staff.
“He had a couple of really nice throws,” Jensen said. “We’ll continue feeding him bits and pieces. We need to stay balanced in order to have success and to keep teams from putting nine in the box.”
Going into the season opener, Jensen told the defense that it was going to lead the way while the offense got used to its new starters.
“They did that,” Jensen said. “As far as the coaches were concerned, the first couple of weeks we were looking at our defense to kind of set the tone. We wanted them to give Victor and the offense the opportunity to get their legs underneath themselves.”
Archbishop Murphy hosts King’s in both teams’ Cascade Conference opener at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 15, at Archbishop Murphy High School. The Knights (0-2) lost 23-7 to Burlington-Edison and 44-39 to Lakeside.
“King’s is always a team that is well-coached. They are going to be disciplined,” Jensen said. “We’ve got to come in and not make mistakes and execute on our side of the ball.”