After listening to the captains and coaches give a few words, the Lynden football team broke it down one final time for the season Saturday at Everett Memorial Stadium, proclaiming, “Family!”
Then, the team – that family – gathered around its patriarch, coach Curt Kramme, for one last tear-filled hug.
“They’re a pretty special group,” Kramme said. “In a sense, I don’t think anyone expected us to make it to the semifinals this year. I couldn’t be prouder of them for doing it. It still stings, but when it’s all said and done, and we’ve had a couple days to cool off, I’m sure there’ll be a lot of happy memories.”
Facing top-ranked Archbishop Murphy – a team so intimidating that it forced five Cascade Conference foes to forfeit without taking the field during the regular season – has a tendency to sting. But the Lions came ready to battle the Wildcats.
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Archbishop Murphy scored on its first eight possessions, including a 56-yard field goal by Ryan Henderson, before taking a knee twice on its final drive, winning 52-14 and ending the Lions’ run in the Class 2A state semifinals.
Wildcats quarterback Connor Johnson had a brilliant day, hitting 11 of 12 pass attempts for 243 yards and five touchdowns. He came within 1 yard of having a sixth in the third quarter but carried it into the end zone one play later.
“With the concepts we have, there’s always someone who is open, and I can rely on all four receivers we have on the field,” Johnson said. “Someone will come open.”
Getting open the most were Anfernee Gurley, who caught four passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns, and Kyler Gordon, who snagged four receptions for 89 yards and three touchdowns.
Archbishop Murphy (13-0) jumped on top in the first quarter with Collin Montez’s 6-yard TD run and an 11-yard scoring reception by Gordon.
Lynden (11-2), which lost 7 yards combined on its first two three-and-out possessions, got moving on its third drive, when Jacob Hommes found Aaron Weidenaar, who turned the screen into a 31-yard gain to midfield.
Seven plays later, the Lions set up for third and 1 from the Wildcats’ 13 and appeared headed for a touchdown until Emmanual Osuoha’s strip at the 1 resulted in the ball bouncing through the end zone for a touchback.
“We didn’t play as well as we needed to play,” Kramme said. “Obviously the fumble in the end zone hurt us. We didn’t mean to do that. ... We knew we couldn’t do that kind of stuff against this team and expect to be successful.”
The Wildcats made them pay. Five plays later, Johnson found Gurley along the right sideline for a 58-yard catch and run for a 21-0 lead.
Lynden scored on its next possession when Hommes hit Rylan Severson for an 8-yard touchdown, but that’s as close as the Lions would get. Hommes connected with Brody Weinheimer for a 7-yard score in the fourth quarter, but Archbishop Murphy already was looking ahead to facing Liberty in next week’s state final.
“It feels great,” Johnson said of advancing to the championship game. “This has been our goal since last year losing in the semifinals. We don’t want that feeling again. This has been our goal since Day One. Now it’s right there for us to go get it.”
In addition to throwing for two touchdowns, Hommes ran for a game-high 76 yards and passed for 127 yards.
Hommes was one of 20 seniors the Lions have listed on their roster.
What have those seniors meant to Kramme?
“I don’t have any words, really,” he said.
AM – Collin Montez 6 run (Ryan Henderson kick)
AM – Kyler Gordon 11 pass from Connor Johnson (Henderson kick)
AM – Anfernee Gurley 58 pass from Johnson (Henderson kick)
L – Rylan Severson 8 pass from Jacob Hommes (Isaiah Baseden kick)
AM – Gordon 16 pass from Johnson (Henderson kick)
AM – Gordon 54 pass from Johnson (Henderson kick)
AM – Johnson 1 run (Henderson kick)
L – Brody Weinheimer 7 pass from Hommes (Baseden kick)
AM – Gurley 13 pass from Johnson (Henderson kick)
AM – Henderson 56 FG
RUSHING – Lynden: Jacob Hommes 20-76, Brody Weinheimer 17-44. Archbishop Murphy: Anfernee Gurley 3-39, Collin Montez 9-30, Kyler Gordon 1-13, Emmanual Osuoha 7-33, Ben Hines 3-9, Connor Johnson 1-1, Fredrico Girault 2-2, Victor Gabalis 2-(-2).
PASSING – Lynden: Jacob Hommes 14-23-0-127. Archbishop Murphy: Connor Johnson 11-12-0-243, Victor Gabalis 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING – Lynden: Aaron Weidenaar 4-49, Rylan Severson 5-30, Brody Weinheimer 3-26, Blake Silves 1-8, Landon DeBruin 1-14. Archbishop Murphy: Collin Montez 1-(-1), Kyler Gordon 4-89, Paul Schireman 1-15, Anfernee Gurley 4-118, Dillon Singh Halpin 1-22.