Middle linebacker Julius McDade has 27 tackles in both of O’Dea’s wins so far, but a bigger test comes Friday when the Fighting Irish hit the road to play No. 10 Marysville-Pilchuck, Class 3A state semifinalists last season. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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Julius McDade, or “Juice” as O’Dea football coach Monte Kohler likes to call him, has his defense rolling through the first two games of the season.

“We call him that because he’s got so much juice in him,” says Kohler, referring to McDade’s play on the field and to how much he has to say.

The middle linebacker has 27 tackles in both of O’Dea’s wins so far, but a bigger test comes Friday when the Fighting Irish hit the road to play No. 10 Marysville-Pilchuck, Class 3A state semifinalists last season. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

“They have kids who can make plays and they run the wing-T some on offense, so if you’re not disciplined you’ll get caught,” said McDade at football practice early this week.

But he’s got plenty of confidence his defense can stand tall. Last week, juniors Shea Carstens and Thomas Stowers scored on defense, and Douglas Russell tallied two sacks.

McDade is the only returning starter on defense.

“We’ve got ball hawks and we can fly,” said McDade.

But like Pilchuck, fourth-ranked O’Dea is trying to find its rhythm in the backfield on offense. Gone is Myles Gaskin, a freshman at UW who had a stellar game last week against Sacramento State, so Kohler is mixing in players to see who fits best.

“It’s easy when you have a Myles back there,” said Kohler. “Right now it’s kind of by committee.”

Connor Gregoire and Hunter Franco got most of the touches last week in a 49-22 win over Mariner, with O’Dea relying mostly on its passing game behind senior Nathan West. He finished with 173 yards and two touchdowns, completing 12 of 15 passes.

Marysville-Pilchuck lost big backs Austin Joyner and Killian Page to graduation, so coach Brandon Carson is also trying to figure out who fits best at running the ball.

Last week in a 42-7 loss to No. 1 Lake Stevens, the offense got within scoring range three times but failed to execute.

“We left some points out there on the field, and it’s been a point of emphasis this week,” said Carson.

“It’s an execution thing. When you get down there, you have to toughen up a little bit. You have to put your foot on the throttle.”

Quarterback Erik Lind completed 12 of 15 passes for 131 yards and Justin Trueax scored MP’s lone touchdown.

Sophomore Ray Pimentel is getting praise from Carson, but nothing is set in stone.

“We’re still trying to figure out who our guy is come league time,” said Carson. “So a ton of guys are getting reps, and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”