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Marysville runs by Oak Harbor 49-28
By Jim Waller
Marysville-Pilchuck whipped up the same recipe – a cram-it-down-your-throat rushing game – it used to stuff all its Western Conference foes the past two years in its 49-28 win over visiting Oak Harbor Friday night.
The key ingredient in the Tomahawks’ main dish is all-league running back Austin Denton. He roasted the Wildcats for 323 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. In all, the Tomahawks rushed for 443 yards.
Oak Harbor knew coming in that they would have to stop the Tomahawks’ ground game, something no other Wesco team has the past two years as Marysville-Pilchuck finished its second consecutive 9-0 regular season. M-P averages 38 points a game (and just four pass per contest).
Oak Harbor head coach Jay Turner said they prepared all week to halt Marysville’s running game, and, particularly Denton, but had no better luck than the rest of the league. Turner said, “He is a heck of a player. Even better in person than on film.”
He got Oak Harbor’s attention on the Tomahawks’ first play when he raced for 25 yards. And, just in case the Wildcats forgot about him during the long homecoming halftime break, he scored from 62 yards out on the first play of the second half to put M-P up 28-3.
The only team to “slow down” the Tomahawks this year was Kamiak. Marysville overcame four turnovers and heavy rain to win 14-3. It still rushed for 293 yards while playing without an injured Denton or AJ Kvangnes, its No. 2 rusher.
Denton finished the year with 1,919 yards in eight games, a new Marysville single-season record. He rushed for at least 200 yards in each game.
While Denton dominated Friday’s contest, Oak Harbor wasn’t without its own offensive stars.
Senior receiver Josh Higbee was spectacular. He caught four passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns, and he slashed and bulled his way to three kick off returns of at least 30 yards.
His run after catch on a 41-yard TD in the game’s final minute equaled anything Denton put on display. He also threw, in offensive coordinator Mike Fisher’s words, “a hellacious block” that helped Josiah Miller break a 38-yard punt return.
Brad Farnum caught four passes for 81 yards, and Donovan Hunt three for 67.
Marysville’s line, which is so good opening up holes for its running backs, is also as dominate on the defensive side. Fisher said that they knew they would have to throw to move the ball. He said, “We didn’t care about the weather; we decided we were just going to chuck it.”
“Chuck it” they did. Quarterback Luke Felkner completed 15 of 38 passes for 333 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions in heavy winds and constant rain.
As predicted, the Wildcats had trouble running the ball. They picked up just 49 yards on 22 carries. Throw in a minus 25 yards on three sacks, and the total is 24 yards on 25 carries. Oak Harbor had 14 runs of zero or negative yards.
Hunt finished with 17 yards on 14 carries. Zach Ayer, seeing his first extensive varsity time, had 32 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
Ryan Fakkema kicked a 25-yard field goal.
Oak Harbor’s 28 points is the second most Marysville has surrendered this year.
Turner was impressed with his team’s effort in the face of Marysville’s relentless assault. He said, “The kids played hard; they didn’t quit. They (Marysville-Pilchuck) have steamrolled everyone, but our kids didn’t hang their heads; they kept fighting.”
Oak Harbor (2-4, 3-6) finished fifth in the Wesco North and will play at the fifth-place team (most likely Edmonds-Woodway) from the Wesco South Thursday at 7 p.m.
Marysville, Lake Stevens, and Stanwood will represent the Wesco North in the playoffs.