North Kitsap faces Archbishop Murphy tonight at Everett Memorial Stadium. It is the fourth time in five years they have matched up in the 2A state playoffs. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

North Kitsap faces Archbishop Murphy tonight at Everett Memorial Stadium. It is the fourth time in five years they have matched up in the 2A state playoffs. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

2A state playoffs preview: No. 9 North Kitsap at No. 8 Archbishop Murphy

The game is tonight at 7 p.m. at Everett Memorial Stadium

WHO: No. 9 North Kitsap (8-2, 6-0 Olympic League) at No. 8 Archbishop Murphy (7-3, 3-2 Northwest Conference Sky).

WHAT: 2A state playoffs, first round.

WHERE: Everett Memorial Stadium, Everett, 7 p.m.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: North Kitsap defeated Fife, 28-25, in the West Central District III round; Archbishop Murphy defeated Sedro-Wooley, 23-6, in the District 1/2 2A playoffs.

PRIOR MATCHUPS:

2015: Archbishop Murphy 27, North Kitsap 0.

2016: Archbishop Murphy 34, North Kitsap 0.

2017: Archbishop Murphy 28, North Kitsap 21.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

North Kitsap: Colton Bower, QB (1,248 passing yards, 1,077 rushing yards, 22 total touchdowns), Taylor Jackson, RB (445 rushing yards, five touchdowns in the past three games).

Archbishop Murphy: Victor Gabalis, QB (882 passing yards, 211 rushing yards, 20 total touchdowns), Joe Ennis, RB/WR (449 rushing yards, five touchdowns, 19 receptions, 313 yards, seven touchdowns).

BREAKDOWN: The 2017 game featured a senior-heavy North Kitsap team with a Division I running back in Dax Solis and one of the best offensive lines in the state, while Archbishop Murphy had future University of Washington defensive back Kyler Gordon and an outstanding running back in Ray Pimentel.

Things are different this time around — neither team is as star-studded as they were the last time they met and both teams are less experienced. Few players outside of Gabalis, who was the starting quarterback as a sophomore, were factors in that game. This will be a more physical, grind-it-out game featuring two sturdy defenses, and that should help the Vikings if they’re fully healthy on that side of the ball.

The Wildcats play in a tougher league as the Northwest Conference features highly-ranked Lynden and Lakewood, to which they lost both of their league games, while the Vikings went undefeated in the Olympic League, which placed one other team in the state tournament and did not have any teams in the final Associated Press top ten.

It’s never easy to pick against the hometown team, but with three consecutive losses in this matchup, the Vikings are the ones who have something to prove here. I think it will be much closer than others have predicted, but the Wildcats should still be favored, especially in what is still essentially a home game.

THE PICK: Archbishop Murphy, 27-17.

More in Sports

Bainbridge’s Jacob Dorsey (45) helps bring down Olympic’s Luke Silva (9) during Friday night’s matchup. The Trojans prevailed 28-24. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
BHS comeback falls short due to lack of kicking game

The good news from Friday night’s football game is that Bainbridge scored… Continue reading

Bainbridge middle blocker Holley McFadden gets in the way of a Kingston shot during her team’s victory over the Bucs on Thursday. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Bainbridge beats Kingston for 3rd consecutive win

Three games, nine sets, all of them have gone Bainbridge’s way. The… Continue reading

Sky Henderson (29) rushes to congratulate teammate Avery Pujolar after scoring her third goal of the game in a 5-0 win over Bremerton. (Mark Krulish/Bainbridge Island Review photos)
Pujolar’s hat trick sparks Bainbridge to victory

Bainbridge sophomore Avery Pujolar was flying down the left sideline at full… Continue reading

South Kitsap junior Anna Harvey drops a shot past the Kingston defense. The Wolves defeated the Bucs three sets to two Monday night. (Mark Krulish/North Kitsap Herald photos)
SK comes back to defeat Kingston in 5 sets

South Kitsap was trailing two sets to one late in the fourth… Continue reading

Josh Smith, along with partner Drake Jones, are the top doubles pair for North Kitsap and led the way in Thursday’s match against Bainbridge, winning 6-0, 6-1. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
BI wins singles, NK doubles and match

North Kitsap’s seniors are hoping to make the most of their final… Continue reading

Bainbridge running back Matt LeDorze crashes through the line in the Spartans’ opening night game against Garfield. (Mark Krulish/Bainbridge Island Review)
Young Bainbridge blown out in opener

It was a baptismal by fire for Bainbridge’s young gridders on opening… Continue reading

Sophomore running back/wide receiver Jorden Lee should be one of the team’s featured ball carriers this year. (Mark Krulish | Kitsap News Group)
Young Wolves football team is hungry for a full season

PORT ORCHARD — South Kitsap’s football team will feature a mostly “new-look”… Continue reading

Hailey Deese leads the rush upfield during last year’s match against Bremerton. South Kitsap has a number of returners from last spring’s varsity team. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Sports previews: South Kitsap

Girls Soccer 2021 record: 8-2-1 Head coach: Hailey Parker Key players: Rosamaria… Continue reading

Colton Bower was a 2A All-State selection in the spring and he leads an experienced North Kitsap team this season. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
All-State QB leads N. Kitsap this fall

Editor’s note: A preview on Kingston football will run in next week’s… Continue reading

Most Read