Stilly Cup preview — Winner of rivalry game gets chance to qualify for state

ARLINGTON — Eagles coach Greg Dailer knew before Monday's practice started just how important the 2009 Stilly Cup is to his boys.

"You don't have to say much to get them fired up about the Stilly Cup," Dailer said about the annual Arlington vs. Stanwood football game. "They were already talking about it after the win Friday night. We were happy to beat Snohomish, but the guys were ready to play Stanwood."

It's a good thing Arlington kept its focus on Snohomish during its 47-13 win Oct. 23, however, because had the Eagles lost, their goal of making the state tournament would have vanished.

"This is only my second year coaching, but I know that this is a big rivalry," Dailer said. "And we're expecting a lot of people to be there because of the playoff implications."

Consider Friday's game to be a playoff, as the loser goes home and the winner will play for a state berth next week. Arlington (4-4 overall, 3-2 Wesco) and Stanwood (3-5, 3-2) are in a three-way tie for second with Lake Stevens and just the top three teams making the district crossover bracket. A win could put the Eagles as high as second, while a loss could knock them down to fifth.

But a record isn't all these two teams have in common. Both have been playing arguably their best football all season.

Stanwood, which has traditionally relied on defense, has recently found its way offensively, averaging nearly 30 points in its last three games with a 3-1 record.

"Coach (Aaron) Cupp has really got that quarterback going," Dailer said about senior Michael McCune. "His motion is good and he's making the offense move the chains."

Arlington has also been on a tear lately, scoring an average of 38 points in its last four contests, with a record of 3-1.

"Well I think we both had to play a few top-10 teams early," Dailer said, referring to shared first opponents Marysville-Pilchuck and Jackson in the first half of the season. "It helps when you get to play a little bit easier competition."

Also, Dailer mentioned the evolving maturity of his defense as a key contribution to his boys' recent success — most notably the linebacking corps.

"We've had some young guys back there," Dailer meant experience wise. "But they have really picked it up."

Managing linebackers Blake Petersen, Bo Bummel, Tre Mendenhall and Michael Olson on the field is senior Jeff Owen.

The Stilly Cup is Oct. 30 at 7 p.m.

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