There were no outlandish celebrations. Squalicum didn’t douse its head coach Nick Lucey with a Gatorade bath afterward.
It may have taken 16 years, but the Storm earned its first Class 2A State Football Playoff berth Friday, Nov. 7, at Everett Memorial Stadium, since the school opened in 1998.
And Squalicum proved in every facet of the game against Archbishop Murphy it belongs on the state-tournament stage with the top 16 programs in the state.
Running back Nick Manchester ran wild, quarterback Christian Jorgensen was efficient and Ben Peterson made his impact felt on offense, defense and special teams, as the Storm rolled Archbishop Murphy 44-16 in a winner-to-state, loser-out Class 2A Northwest District Playoff game.
“It’s obviously special, especially to the seniors who have been through certain things,” said Lucey of clinching a state berth. “It’s interesting, coming into the year it was a team that we didn’t know what their mindset was going to be on things. They are resilient. First state playoff experience, and these guys expect to do well, and they’re fun to roll with.”
The win sets the Storm (8-2) up with a Class 2A State Playoff round of 16 matchup with Orting next week on the road.
Seemingly every one of Squalicum’s play-makers had a hand in the blowout win.
Manchester led the Storm rushing attack, compiling 148 yards and two TDs on nine carries, and Jorgensen completed 12 of 20 passes for 183 yards and touchdown tosses of 64 yards to Josiah Westbrook and 11 yards to Peterson, who played a tremendous game.
The lighting-quick sophomore hauled in four passes for 42 yards, ran for 49 yards, made tackle after tackle on defense and for good measure took a second-half punt back 73 yards for a score.
“That kid is a freak of nature,” said Manchester of Peterson. “Fastest kid on the team, probably, and he won’t go down without a fight.”
Squalicum wasted no time putting this one away.
Lucey expressed the importance of gaining a lead on a run-oriented team such as Archbishop Murphy, and just 6:16 into the first quarter the Storm owned 20-0 advantage.
Jorgensen led Squalicum on TD drives each of its first three possessions.
The senior QB started with a bubble pass to Westbrook, who toted the ball 64 yards down the left sideline for a score. Two minutes later Jordan Campbell capped off a six-play, 67-yard drive with a 2-yard TD run with 8:51 left in the first.
Finally, Manchester scored his first TD of the night on a 19-yard carry around the left side. Before Archbishop Murphy could get its footing, it was staring at a huge deficit.
“It set the tone,” Lucey said of the scoring blitz. “They are a ground-and-pound team. Generally those teams don’t score in bushels right away.”
The Wildcats did battle back. They strung together their best drive of the game following Manchester’s score, a nine-play, 54-yard drive that ended with a Kerry Jackson 4-yard TD run with 0:35 left in the first.
Archbishop Murphy kicker Ryan Henderson then used a 36-yard field goal to trim the Storm’s lead to 20-9 with 8:23 to go until halftime.
But those were the final points the Wildcats scored until a meaningless touchdown late in the fourth.
Squalicum reeled off 24 unanswered points to put the game completely out of reach early in the third quarter thanks to a Quinn Carpenter field goal, a 56-yard Manchester TD run, an 11-yard TD pass from Peterson to Jorgensen and Peterson’s punt return.
“We got out there and just kept going, put the pedal to the metal and didn’t let off,” Manchester said.
Once Squalicum took a sizable lead, Archbishop Murphy had no answer back. Even trailing by three scores, the Wildcats kept pounding the ball to Jackson, who finished with 26 carries for 130 yards.
“We are a very close team, and we all love each other,” Manchester said. “So we just play together as a team. If you play together, things come together.”
SQ — Josiah Westbrook 64 pass from Christian Jorgensen (kick fail)
SQ — Jordan Campbell 2 run (Quinn Carpenter kick)
SQ — Manchester 19 run (Carpenter kick)
ATM — Kerry Jackson 4 run (kick fail)
ATM — Ryan Henderson 36 field goal
SQ — Carpenter 25 field goal
SQ — Manchester 56 run (Carpenter kick)
SQ — Ben Peterson 11 pass from Jorgensen (Carpenter kick)
SQ — Peterson 73 punt return (Carpenter)
ATM — Kerry Jackson 4 run (kick fail)
ATM — Dennis Moton 25 pass from Nolan Rogge
ATMFirst downs1615Rushing Att-yards21-22649-269Comp-Att-Int13-22-06-15-0Passing yards18461Penalties-yards9-487-56Fumbles-lost1-02-1
RUSHING — Squalicum: Nick Manchester 9-148, Jordan Campbell 4-15, Ben Peterson 1-49, Will Nickelson 4-7, Bunji Mcleod 3-7. Archbishop Murphy: Kerry Jackson 26-130, Reagan Gordon 5-45, Taylor Gipson 5-9, Isaac Westlund 2-8, Nolan Rogge 7-57, Anfernee Gurley 2-11, Santana Saiz 2-9.
PASSING — Squalicum: Christian Jorgensen 12-20-183-0, Garrett Sorenson 1-2-1-0. Archbishop Murphy: Nolan Rogge 6-15-61-0.
RECEIVING — Squalicum: Ben Peterson 4-42, Josiah Westbrook 2-71, Damek Mitchell 2-39, Coleman Schwab 2-13, Jake Burns 2-18, LeAndrew Alarcon 1-1. Archbishop Murphy: Taylor Gipson 3-28, Kerry Jackson 2-8, Dennis Moton 1-25.
Second and third quarter scoring summaries corrected Nov. 10, 2014.