High School Football

Can Lynden knock off top-ranked Archbishop Murphy in 2A state semifinals?

Lynden quarterback Jacob Hommes and Archbishop Murphy defender Abraham Lucas hope to lead their teams to victory when the Lions and Wildcats meet in the Class 2A state semifinals Saturday.
Lynden quarterback Jacob Hommes and Archbishop Murphy defender Abraham Lucas hope to lead their teams to victory when the Lions and Wildcats meet in the Class 2A state semifinals Saturday. McClatchy

Lynden at Archbishop Murphy

The Lynden football team faces the ultimate challenge in the Class 2A state semifinals Saturday, when the Lions take on top-ranked Archbishop Murphy. This will be the fourth meeting between the two schools in the state playoffs – the previous three have all been won by Lynden, including a 17-16 victory in the 2011 2A state title game.

Time: 1 p.m.

Site: Everett Memorial Stadium

Scouting the Lions

Coach: Curt Kramme (26th season, 248-60)

District: Northwest (No. 2 seed)

Previous state appearances: 26 (last in 2014)

State record: 59-18

State titles: Eight (1980, ’91, 2006, ’08, ’09, ’11, ’12, ’13)

Lions update: Fourth-ranked Lynden survived the six-hour bus trip and Spokane West Valley to grab a 34-21 state quarterfinal victory last Saturday. Quarterback Jacob Hommes had a great day passing, hitting 16 of 19 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 72 yards and three more scores. Hommes has rushed for 1,395 yards and 20 TDs and passed for 1,687 yards and 21 scores. Rylan Severson was his top target, catching nine passes for 67 yards and a TD, while Landon DeBruin had two receptions for 52 yards and a TD. Running back Brody Weinheimer rushed for 68 yards on 16 carries and is now just 88 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season. The Lynden defense also chipped in a solid effort, limiting the Eagles to 48 yards on 21 carries (2.3 average), though West Valley did pass for 280 yards and three touchdowns.

Player to watch: Despite his 5-foot-9, 165-pound frame, junior linebacker Gage Bates is Lynden’s leading tackler by nearly a 2-to-1 ratio over the Lions next leading defender this season, Kramme said. With the number of explosive playmakers Archbishop Murphy has offensively, it’s imperative Bates and every Lynden defender make sure to wrap up ball carriers when they get a chance and prevent them from finding space to create big plays.

Key to the game: The Lions enter the game plus-12 in the turnover differential, having forced 27 turnovers and committed only 15. Kramme said one of the ways Archbishop Murphy has been able to score so many points is working on short fields after long returns by the Wildcats special teams or forcing turnovers defensively. If Lynden can continue to limit its turnovers, it could give its defense a huge boost toward keeping Archbishop Murphy out of the end zone.

Scouting the Wildcats

Coach: Jerry Jensen (fourth season, 34-10)

District: Northwest (No. 3 seed)

Previous state appearances: 11 (last in 2015)

State record: 29-9

State titles: Two (2002, ’03)

Wildcats update: Top-ranked Archbishop Murphy ended the career of legendary Tumwater coach Sid Otton with a 48-10 win over the Thunderbirds in the state quarterfinals last Saturday. The 10 points Tumwater scored were four more than the Wildcats had allowed all season up to that point – albeit the game was just the team’s seventh of the season after five Cascade Conference foes elected to forfeit their games. Burlington-Edison was the only other team to score on the Wildcats in a 55-6 loss in the 2A Northwest District playoffs. Last week, the Wildcats had two interception returns for touchdowns – a 97-yarder by Collin Montez and one for 41 yards by Kyler Gordon. But Tumwater trailed only 17-10 at the half and was able to hold the Wildcats to 8 yards rushing in the first 24 minutes, despite a monstrous Wildcat line that includes three 300-pounders.

Player to watch: Washington State commit Abraham Lucas isn’t one of the 300-pounders up front for Archbishop Murphy, but he does weigh in at 6-foot-8 and 260 pounds. It’s the size of Lucas and his linemates and the worry about injury that caused South Whidbey, Sultan, Granite Falls, Bothell Cedar Park Christian and Cedarcrest to forfeit games to the Wildcats this season. They also allow Archbishop Murphy’s talented playmakers to shine.

Key to the game: This will be the fourth meeting between Lynden and Archbishop Murphy in the state playoffs. The previous three have been won by Lynden – the last a 17-16 win in the 2011 2A title game. But nobody has been able to put pressure on the Wildcats this year. Tuwmater did a good job of keeping things close through the first half, but their closest game was a 34-0 win over North Kitsap in the first round of the state playoffs. Can Lynden be the one to test Archbishop Murphy’s resolve in a close game?

Related stories from Bellingham Herald