North Kitsap running back Taylor Jackson tries to maneuver through the Archbishop Murphy defense. The Wildcats won 46-0. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

North Kitsap running back Taylor Jackson tries to maneuver through the Archbishop Murphy defense. The Wildcats won 46-0. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Vikings can’t tame Wildcats in 46-0 state playoff loss

It was Archbishop Murphy’s fourth consecutive state playoff victory over North Kitsap

EVERETT — The fourth time wasn’t the charm either for North Kitsap against Archbishop Murphy in the 2A state playoffs.

The Wildcats, powered by a big, physical offensive line and tough ground game ran roughshod over the Vikings in a 46-0 rout at Everett Memorial Stadium on Friday night.

It was a tough night for a young, beat up North Kitsap team that came into the game with numerous injuries and a running back throwing up beforehand. But the loss could also end up being a valuable lesson with so many sophomores and juniors returning next year for another run.

“Our kids gave it everything they could,” said North Kitsap head coach Jeff Weible.

The Vikings had a couple of good early drives, but couldn’t pick up points on either of them. Their first drive ended with a field goal attempt and a bad snap that sailed over Colton Bower’s head. Archbishop Murphy then went straight down the field and scored on a Mason Mathis eight-yard run. The next drive ended with an interception at the one-yard line.

“Maybe we finish the first two drives of the game, it’s a different story,” Weible said.

It was all Wildcats after that. 6-foot-3 senior quarterback Victor Gabalis, who started against North Kitsap as a sophomore in their last matchup, directed the offense with confidence, throwing for 185 yards and two touchdowns. Joe Ennis caught both touchdown passes and also recorded a safety in the game.

A season of growth

The Vikings have come a long way over the course of the fall. Heavy losses to graduation over the past couple of years necessitated a transition to a younger core. With that came new personnel and a new offensive philosophy and it took time to merge those two elements together.

In their opener, they managed just three points against Bainbridge. It would have been hard to imagine a state playoff berth was in the cards after that result, but they bounced back to beat Kamiak 28-6 and then prevailed in another low-scoring game against Sequim 16-8. Their week four contest against Bremerton was an exciting 35-27 victory and then they beat Olympic to secure a league title in week 9.

“That’s what made us stronger,” said senior running back and defensive back Josh Fisher, who finished Friday night’s game with 13 tackles and three receptions for 16 yards. “If you look at previous teams, we’d just blow through all the teams we played, then we’d hit the playoffs and get those tight games. But all season we were playing tight games and I feel that’s what brought us together.”

There are often roadblocks, hazards and other obstacles on the road to success. The key for this young team going forward will be to learn from what they have seen out of their talented, top-flight opponents.

“I’m so proud of these kids and I’m so excited for what we can do in the next couple of years,” Weible said. “They have nothing to be ashamed about.”

Archbishop Murphy 46, North Kitsap 0

NK 0 0 0 0 — 0

AM 7 14 18 7 — 46

Scoring Summary

First Quarter

Archbishop Murphy — Mason Mathis 8 run (Veneziani kick)

Second Quarter

Archbishop Murphy — Joe Ennis 25 pass from Victor Gabalis (Veneziani kick)

Archbishop Murphy — Josaiah Santiago 4 run (Veneziani kick)

Third Quarter

Archbishop Murphy — Ryan King 8 run (kick failed)

Archbishop Murphy — Ennis safety

Archbishop Murphy — Veneziani 33 field goal

Archbishop Murphy — Ennis 12 pass from Gabalis (Veneziani kick)

Fourth Quarter

Archbishop Murphy —King 6 run (Veneziani kick)

Individual Statistics

Rushing — North Kitsap: Bower 8-17, Fisher 2-13, Jackson 7-6, Soria 1-4, Wanzek 6-1. Archbishop Murphy: King 12-84, 2 TDs; Mathis 7-79, TD; Santiago 6-53, TD; Ennis 7-28, Burns 6-19, Gabalis 1-16, Guerrero 1-4.

Passing — North Kitsap: Bower 8-19-97, 3 INTs. Archbishop Murphy: Gabalis 10-17-185, 2 TDs.

Receiving — North Kitsap: Castillo 1-51, King 2-27, Fisher 3-16, Shipp 2-3. Archbishop Murphy: Ennis 4-57, 2 TDs; Santiago 3-47, McCarron 2-45, King 1-36.

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