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SBLive Washington is previewing the Top 50 high school football teams in the state ahead of the 2020-2021 season. Here's an inside look at the Archbishop Murphy Wildcats of the 2A Wesco - No. 41 in our countdown.

Editor’s note: Archbishop Murphy is in the Puget Sound region of Washington’s COVID-19 reopening plan. The region has moved to Phase 2, which gives the school the go-ahead to resume football practice and competitions.

2019 IN REVIEW

8-3 (third place in 2A Northwest Sky); lost to Tumwater in the 2A quarterfinals.

COACH'S RESUMÉ

  • Mark Leone, second season.
  • Overall record: 8-3.
  • Coordinators (base scheme): Offense - Mark Leone (Hybrid Wing-T). Defense - Josh Jansen (4-3 multiple front).

NOTABLE DEPARTURES

LB Jack Barnes

OL/DL Zion Evans-Robinson

QB Victor Gabalis

RB Mason Mathis

OL/DL Evan Thode

RETURNING STARTERS

Offense - 6. Defense - 6.

TOP PLAYERS

RB/WR/DB Joe Ennis, 5-10, 175, sr.

LB/TE Colby Glennon, 6-3, 225, jr.

RB Jelani Guerrero, 5-9, 180, jr.

OL/DL Christian Hanna, 6-2, 300, sr.

OL/DL Daniel Jenkins, 5-10, 300, sr.

DL/LB/TE Josh McCarron, 6-4, 215, sr.

LB Matthew McFerran, 6-0, 215, sr.

DB Keyshon Rife, 5-10, 180, sr.

THREE TO SEE

Joe Ennis, athlete

Team's lone returning two-way, all-league first-team performer (WR/CB) welcomes hectic workload.

Josh McCarron, defensive end

Virginia signee doesn't just win with speed off the edge - his technique is sound and he scouts in detail.

Matthew McFerran, linebacker

Inglemoor transfer already establishing himself as a reliable, physical football hunter on the outside.

2021 OUTLOOK

In the nearly three decades the school has been open, Archbishop Murphy has established itself as a small-school force traditionally powered by big, athletic teenagers.

In 2021, the Wildcats have one of the best in the state in Josh McCarron - the Everett Herald's reigning all-classification area defensive player of the year (30 tackles for loss, including 21 sacks as a junior).

Coach Mark Leone will unleash McCarron once again from various spots during this shortened season, but he also thinks both offensive and defensive lines will be improved as well.

Especially exciting is the Wildcats' front seven on defense. Along with McCarron, Michael Lucas (brother of former WSU tackle Abe Lucas) will return from a "rehab" sophomore year to form a formidable defensive-end tandem. And after seeing some varsity action as a ninth grader in 2019, Issiah Smith is set to be the full-time starter at defensive tackle.

Throw in the presence of the linebacking duo of Colby Glennon, who has grown three inches and gained an absurd 70 pounds in the offseason, and Matthew McFerran, Archbishop Murphy should be able to create havoc around the line of scrimmage - and beyond.

Of course, the biggest question mark is how to replace Victor Gabalis, the graduated three-year starting quarterback.

Senior Nick Rodabaugh has been the insurance policy behind Gabalis, and figures to see time. But junior Colton Johnson has a rocket arm, and boasts great upside. And don't rule out sophomore Kai Lewis.

"Because this is a year with no postseason, we'll probably have something where we rotate all of them," Leone said.

Whoever is under center will need to get McCarron at tight end, and Joe Ennis at running back/wide receiver the football.

COVID-19 IMPACT

"Our program has bonded together during the shutdown and tried to be a support system for our entire team. We are hopeful and excited for the opportunity to have a season in a way that protects our students but also allows them to have a full student-athlete experience." - Mark Leone

2020-21 SCHEDULE - ARCHBISHOP MURPHY TEAM PAGE

  • March 6 at Lake Stevens
  • March 12 vs. Meadowdale
  • March 19 vs. Glacier Peak
  • March 26 at Lakewood
  • April 2 vs. Marysville-Getchell