ARLINGTON — Perhaps the only disappointment the Eagles faced Sept. 2 was that they didn’t get the chance to play against possibly the state’s best running back, KeiVarae Russell.
But then again, it’s hard to find a letdown in a 42-12 drubbing of Mariner in a non-conference contest on opening night.
“I was really proud of our guys,” said Arlington head coach Greg Dailer. “We had some misreads, wrong routes and some dropped passes, but I liked the way we overcame them.”
Any mishaps the Eagles had in the first half could be chalked up to opening night jitters, and were probably well forgotten less than 10 minutes into the contest, as the Eagles owned a 21-0 lead. Senior quarterback Blake McPherson took advantage of an undersized Marauder secondary, completing 8 of 16 pass attempts for 186 yards and three scores in the first quarter.
“Our receivers are some of the best athletes in the state,” said McPherson. “I feel like I can just throw it up there and they’ll come down with it.”
Arlington scored on touchdown receptions from Skylor Elgarico (82 yards), Terry Dawn (11 yards) and Colton Hordyk (15 yards).
And while the Eagles were lighting up the scoreboard, the Marauders had a difficult time moving the chains without their workhorse.
“Fantastic effort for our defense,” said Dailer. “You hate to see any athlete not be able to play, but especially one like KeiVarae Russell. It’s a little disappointing, for them as well as for us when you get a chance to go against somebody like that, you get excited because you want to see how you measure up.”
In the absence of Russell, who suffered a minor concussion earlier in the week, Arlington’s defensive line disrupted the Mariner’s touted offensive line, with senior Dylan Worley leading the way with four of his seven tackles resulting in a loss, including a sack.
“I wasn’t surprised,” said Worley about not allowing a single point in the first half. “I think our defense is the best in the state and I think if KeiVarae were here, we could have shut them out too.”
Arlington limited Mariner to just 27 yards in the first half — piling up five tackles for losses, a pair of three-and-outs and a Elgarico interception — while amassing 334 yards and a 42-0 lead behind three rushing touchdowns by Hordyk, who also finished with 100 yards on the ground. McPherson finished the day going 11-for-20 for 222 yards.
The Eagles were able to let their underclassmen play much of the second half, while Mariner scored a pair of TDs to avoid putting up a zero in a game that pitted favorites of the Western Conference’s North and South divisions.
Arlington travels to Everett Memorial to face Jackson Sept. 9.