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Archbishop Murphy beat the Vikings 46-0 in the 2A state playoffs Friday in Everett

EVERETT— In a scene that has become all too familiar in recent years, the North Kitsap Vikings shook hands with the victorious Wildcats after Archbishop Murphy won the 2A state football playoff game against the Vikings Friday at Everett Memorial Stadium.

The season was successful for North Kitsap in many ways — they won another Olympic League championship, finished with an 8-3 record, and grew stronger as the season went on. The Vikings also showcased their youth that will likely see more playoff games before their high school careers are done.

They just faced an opponent that was bigger, stronger and more polished in Archbishop Murphy. 

Senior running back Josh Fisher said the Vikings were doubted by others outside the locker room in the preseason they would find success.

“I feel like that unified us and made us stronger and tighter,” he said. “Young guys stepped into positions, it was just great. You’d never think it would just pull away like that.” 

North Kitsap head coach Jeff Weible told his players from day one as long as they can wake up Saturday morning and look in the mirror and be happy with their effort … most of the time it will come out positive.

“They’re a better team than we are,” Weible said of ATM. “Bigger, physical and our kids gave everything they could.”

If the Vikings had been able to finish two strong first quarter drives, the story might have had a different ending.

North’s first possession took them all the way into the red zone of ATM, but a bad snap on a filed goal attempt led to quarterback Colton Bower improvising a pass play. With no one downfield, the Vikings were hit with a penalty and turned the ball over on downs.

“I don’t know what happened there, but we don’t get points out of it,” Weible said.

Archbishop marched down the field and scored on an 8-yard tun into the end zone and a 7-0 lead.

The Vikings again were able to keep its ensuing drive alive on a Bower pass to Lincoln Castillo to get into Wildcats territory. Bower’s run up the middle on fourth down put the Vikings inside the 20. With a fresh set of downs and the momentum, North put itself in prime position to tie the game. But Mason Mathis of ATM read the throw by Bower to his intended target and intercepted at the one-yard line.

“It seemed like the only thing that would work was sort of tricking them,” Fisher said. “Normally we’ve been pounding down teams but a team like that, with their size and athleticism, it’s just not going to happen.”

Archbishop drove the length of the field on its next possession, led by its senior quarterback Victor Gabalis, and scored to take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The Wildcats added a touchdown with 20 seconds remaining in the first half for a 21-0 lead at halftime.

It didn’t help that North had several players fighting through injuries — linebacker Cache Holmes had a torn MCL and dislocated kneecap, lineman Ryan Pugh had a high ankle sprain, RB Taylor Jackson was sick all week and didn’t practice (ended up vomiting on the sideline before the game) and lineman Chance Fredericksen tore his meniscus early in the season and played all year with a brace.

“Guys are beat up but they just come out and fight and fight and fight,” Weible said.

In the second half, Archbishop flexed its muscle even more and added three more TDs and a field goal to start a running clock with a 46-0 lead.

“That’s a helluva football team,” Weible said of ATM. “Take nothing away from what their kids did. Our kids competed to the very last second and sometimes you lose to a better football team.”

Fisher said the Vikings will be right back into the playoffs next season.

“I think the brotherhood is tight now and I feel like their only going to need a couple guys to fill into the senior’s roles,” he said, “so I think the team is going to look good next year, even better maybe.”

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