Archbishop Murphy took the necessary steps on Wednesday to prepare for its televised game against King’s: The school brought in extra bleachers at Terry Ennis Stadium.
When King’s and ATM meet at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, it won’t just be a clash of Cascade Conference rivals. It will be a showcase of two of the best small schools in the state. A showcase, really, for all small schools.
King’s (2-0) is generally viewed as the best team in Class 1A while Archbishop Murphy (2-0) is ranked No. 1 in 2A. Root Sports will televise the game, and Archbishop Murphy coach Bill Marsh expects a crowd of more than 3,000.
“I think it’s good for small-school football in general,” King’s coach Jim Shapiro said. “It’s common thinking that small-school football is lower grade, and we like to think differently.”
Marsh is in his first year at Archbishop Murphy, so all of this is new to him. But he did get to see a little teaser for Thursday night’s game: In June, at the King’s team camp, Archbishop Murphy and King’s scrimmaged against each other three or four times.
“There were other teams there, and you could definitely tell when our teams were facing each other that it was more than us just running our basic plays,” Marsh said. “They weren’t keeping score, but I think in our minds we were.”
Said Shapiro, “Both teams scored and both teams caused problems on defense. If you want to use that as an incubator for what might happen, it tells you it will be a competitive football game.”
Shapiro, in his 19th year at the school, said King’s has never defeated Archbishop Murphy. The Knights probably have their best team in school history, and even Marsh said King’s is the favorite.
King’s is led by offensive lineman Mason Friedline and quarterback Billy Green, a BYU commit with nine touchdown passes in two games. Shapiro said playing this game in good weather early instead of its usual slot later in the year is important for a King’s team that likes to throw it around.
Another factor that could help King’s: The Knights defeated 2A power and formerly top-ranked Lynden 42-39 in Week 1. That loss actually vaulted ATM into the No. 1 spot in 2A.
“Quite frankly, I think they’re the favorite,” Marsh said. “They’ve got the all-everything quarterback. He’s fun to watch, but he’s not fun to game plan for.”
Archbishop Murphy counters with speedy running back Alex Galgano and Hans Vanderwel, a powerful running back and quarterback with five touchdowns.
“For us,” Shapiro said, “it’s trying to match their speed and control their speed.”
The stage is now set. The extra seating is in place and the TV crews are beginning their preparations for a game that puts two smaller schools on the big stage for a night.
“I recall my last few games at Eastside Catholic, and we had the exact same feelings when we were in the state playoffs,” said Marsh, who coached the 3A Crusaders for 10 seasons. “This is the same, plus some
– Can Archbishop Murphy make King’s march down the field? The Knights have plenty of big-play potential, and the challenge will be for Archbishop Murphy to corral that. “We know they want to throw deep,” Marsh said, “and we have to eliminate the big plays.”
– Can King’s handle Archbishop Murphy’s speed and the moment? The first part of that question is simple: Can the Knights keep up with Archbishop Murphy’s athletes? The second part is a little more complex. Archbishop Murphy has played in plenty of big games, while King’s has never defeated ATM. Handling the spotlight and TV will be a huge part of this one.