EVERETT, Wash. -- Archbishop Murphy football responded to three teams forfeiting league games, calling it a “frustrating” and “disappointing” situation that could have been avoided in the summer.
Granite Falls football voted last night to forfeit Friday’s game against Murphy, after South Whidbey and Sultan cancelled games earlier this season. Each team forfeited over player safety concerns.
"It's very frustrating," said Archbishop Murphy Head Coach Jerry Jensen. "We are very disappointed."
Murphy, which went 12-3 last season, is widely regarded as a state playoff contender in Class 2A. In the three games Murphy has played this year, they have outscored opponents 170-0.
“There’s no replacement,” said Jensen. “Our kids have lost three games now of their senior season. Three weeks of competition for others.”
Jensen said the third forfeiture was a surprise. Earlier in the season, Murphy had asked other teams in the Cascade conference if they were planning to forfeit games – all except two said they would play.
If Murphy had known earlier about potential forfeitures, Jensen said the team could have found other opponents. However, four weeks into the season, rescheduling games is difficult.
“Hopefully we enact change that doesn’t allow teams to forfeit three days before the game,” Jensen said.
The issue, according to some of Archbishop Murphy's opponents, is that the private school is able to draw athletes from a much larger geographic area than the public schools in its conference. As a result, some have said the team's roster is much bigger, and full of talent from across the region.
On Wednesday, Jensen pushed for more “competitive balance” in the Northwest District’s Class 2A leagues. He called on the Cascade Conference and the WIAA, which governs high school sports in Washington, to address the issue.
A WIAA spokesperson told KING 5 it is ultimately up to the Cascade Conference to resolve the problem.
The conference president said they will revisit the concerns surrounding Archbishop Murphy at the end of the season. That means changes could be in place by next season, but not much can be done this year.
Earlier this year, the district proposed a new football league for only Class 2A schools. It would have included 12 schools, including powerhouses Archbishop Murphy, Burlington-Edison, and Lynden. However, the league never came to fruition.
The Archbishop Murphy players just want to get back on the field.
“At the end of the day we want to play football,” said senior wide receiver Anfernee Gurley. “That’s why we put in all the time in the off-season.”
For now, the team said they won't let recent forfeits and off the field drama distract players from their ultimate goal of bringing the first 2A football championship to the Archbishop Murphy community.
"That goal will not change," said Jensen.