While Mountlake Terrace beat a very good Capital team on Nov. 8 to qualify for the 3A State Football Championships, everyone agrees that the next team that the Hawks face will present a far greater challenge.
Mountlake Terrace travels to Marysville-Pilchuck on Friday, Nov. 14, to take on the 8-1 Tomahawks in the first round of state playoffs. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
The Tomahawks are ranked No. 4 in the Seattle Times 3A state football rankings behind perennial powers Bellevue, Eastside Catholic and O’Dea, who beat M-P 34-10, on Sept. 19. In their eight victories so far this year, the Tomahawks have dominated, outscoring their opponents 390-146.
“They’re one of the best teams in the state, no question,” Mountlake Terrace coach Tony Umayam said of Marysville-Pilchuck.
M-P is led by senior running back/linebacker Austin Joyner, a highly-regarded recruit who has committed to attending Washington State University next year and playing defensive back for the Cougars. Joyner has rushed for 1,183 yards this season, giving him more than 5,000 yards in his four-year high school career.
For Mountlake Terrace to have a chance against the hard-charging Tomahawks, they will have to not only slow down Joyner but the entire M-P rushing attack, Umayam said.
“Not only is Austin maybe the top two or three back in the state, they also have other guys that if they were on other teams would be all-league,” Umayam said.
As good as Joyner is, the 5’9” 190-pound senior isn’t even the Tomahawks’ leading rusher this season. That distinction goes to senior Killian Page, who has run for 1,367 yards in nine games. The Hawks could also see M-P using JJ Valencia and Hunter Truex carrying the ball some on Friday night.
Mountlake Terrace hopes to counter with its own running attack, led by the 1-2 punch of seniors Ryan Lacasse and Malcolm Johnson. Lacasse leads the Hawks in rushing with 1,107 yards this year, while Johnson, who had gained 909 yards, needs 91 to reach 1,000 for the 2014 season.
The Hawks’ 14-7 win over Capital last weekend was the first postseason district playoff football victory in school history, an accomplishment the team really wanted. But the victory wasn’t without cost; Senior Jacob Wallgren suffered a possible concussion and his availability against the Tomahawks will be dependent upon tests conducted this week. Senior Gabe Brady, who leads the Hawks in interceptions this year, twisted an ankle but will likely be able to play.
With an 8-2 record already in the books, and the school’s first football playoff victory achieved, do the Hawks have any motivation for more this season? “I don’t think these guys want it to end,” Umayam said. “We’re going to have to go out and even improve on (last) week and be ready to give Marysville-Pilchuck our best effort.”
Lacasse still sounded revved up as he contemplated a matchup with Marysville-Pilchuck. “We’ve got something in the tank. We haven’t laid off the gas pedal yet.”
The Mountlake Terrace – Marysville-Pilchuck 3A state playoff game will take place at Quil Ceda Stadium, 5611- 108th Street SW in Marysville. Tickets are $8; high school and middle school students with a valid ASB card and seniors 62-years-old and older will get admitted for $6.
– By Doug Petrowski