Sam McPherson knows he has big shoes to fill.
With the graduation of Danny Wilson and Darrin Laufasa — a couple of last year’s all-KingCo running backs — McPherson was forced to step in and handle the bulk of the carries for Bothell.
“They were probably the two best running backs to ever play here,” he said. “I’m just trying to follow in their footsteps.”
McPherson did his best impression of his former teammates Friday night, rushing for 175 yards and scoring three total touchdowns as Bothell trounced Redmond 49-14 at Pop Keeney Stadium.
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Not only did McPherson make his presence felt on the ground, the junior returned the opening kickoff to the house, just as he did in Bothell’s season-opener on Sept. 7.
The 92-yard touchdown provided an instant spark for the Cougars (4-1, 2-0 KingCo 4A), who proceeded to find the end zone another two times in the first quarter and take an early 21-0 lead. Bothell’s Ryan Monson returned a blocked punt for a touchdown to make it a three-score game.
During the second quarter, the Cougars made mistake after mistake, and Redmond (4-1, 0-1) pulled within 14 points by the break. But Bothell took advantage of its opportunities in the third and widened the gap even further, which quarterback Ross Bowers credits to head coach Tom Bainter’s inspiring halftime speech.
“He said we have to quit shooting ourselves in the foot and just play Bothell football,” Bowers said after the game. “In the second half we made great adjustments and the scoreboard showed it.”
McPherson got the Cougars going again with a 68-yard touchdown run on their first possession of the second half. Redmond quarterback Zach Wheat was picked off a minute later, and Bothell converted the turnover into another seven points.
By the start of the final quarter, the Cougars had a 35-point advantage on the Mustangs, who hadn’t allowed more than 20 points in a game prior to Friday night.
Wheat was held to just six completions and 63 yards through the air. The senior felt pressure all night from Bothell defenders, especially AJ North, who had a trio of sacks on Wheat.
The Cougars racked up 463 total yards. Bainter described Friday night’s 49-14 victory as the perfect way to commence homecoming weekend at Bothell.
“I’m very pleased with our performance,” he said. “We came out in front of a big crowd, and to play like that, you couldn’t ask for anything more.”