Olympic’s decision to play Archbishop Murphy draws praise

Olympic High’s football team did something that no team has been willing to do for the last five weeks: play powerhouse 2A Archbishop Murphy High School, as contractually agreed to.

After a series of forfeits, in apparent protest of small schools having to play larger, well-stocked teams, Olympic High announced it would honor its league agreement and play Archbishop Murphy at its Everett home stadium. (The game, originally scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, has been moved to Saturday, Oct. 22 at 1 p.m.) It will be the first time in a month that the parochial school’s powerful varsity football team has been allowed to actually play an opponent.

With the news of Olympic’s willingness to play Archbishop Murphy, the story quickly became national. The school started getting calls from media outlets like NBC, National Public Radio, local sports call-in shows and several local newspapers. In an attempt to manage the media clamor for interviews and coverage, Olympic Athletic Director Nate Andrews staged a press conference after practice on Oct. 18. Andrews also warned the media that players would not be available for questions. Andrews and head coach Sal Quetevis Sr. agreed to field questions.

The controversy began with the season opener, as Archbishop Murphy demolished a normally strong Issaquah High 73-0. After consecutive victories over Bishop Blanchet of Seattle (59-0) and King’s of Seattle (38-0), the rumbling began. The next team on Archbishop Murphy’s schedule was South Whidbey, which could only muster 18 healthy players and, to avoid injury and another run-over, forfeited the game.

Sultan, Granite Falls and Cedar Park Christian all followed suit.

Andrews bristled at an inquiry about whether Olympic would show up to play that night. And when he was asked if there was any concern about injuries from playing such a physically dominant opponent, Andrews snorted.

“You believe that?” he said. “This isn’t about injuries. There are other things going on there.”

Andrews came to Archbishop Murphy’s defense, pointing out that the team had broken no rules.

“They haven’t done anything wrong,” he said. “They’re just doing what they should be doing.”

In the meantime, Archbishop Coach Jerry Jensen said that he shared the frustration of his kids, who will miss the majority of their senior season. But Andrews said that other issues of competitive balance needed to be worked out at the state level. In the meantime, Olympic will take the field as it committed to do.