Football: Lowell claims Battle of the Birds with runaway win over Washington

Lowell senior running back Michael McCarthy turns the corner against Washington on Friday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Eric Sun)

By Jeremy Balan

It would be hard to argue there is a more valuable player in the Academic Athletic Association than Lowell High School senior Michael McCarthy, and his talents were displayed again on Friday night.

Along with handling punting and kicking duties, McCarthy ran for a game-high 86 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, caught a 53-yard touchdown pass and sealed the Cardinals’ 44-14 win over Washington at Kezar Stadium with a fourth-quarter interception.

McCarthy isn’t even a starter on defense, but came in as a backup safety late in the game and the interception just seemed to fit the senior’s do-everything reputation.

Washington senior quarterback Simon Ma is wrapped up by Lowell senior safety Alex Lim on Friday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Eric Sun)

“He does a lot for us and we’re fortunate to have him,” said Lowell head coach Danny Chan. “It’s their senior year and they know they need to go out and take it.”

The last time Lowell (4-3, 3-1) won the annual Battle of the Birds rivalry game, McCarthy was a freshman on the sideline as a junior varsity player, but Washington had dominated the last two meetings, winning by scores of 41-20 and 23-8.

“My freshman year, my brother was on the varsity team and I remember watching from the sideline. It was so exciting,” McCarthy said of the Cardinals’ 29-20 win over Washington in 2009. “I moved up to varsity my sophomore year and we got beat pretty bad, then we got beat pretty bad again. We were hungry for a win, especially the seniors who got beat on the last couple of years.”

No Lowell rusher finished with more than 100 yards but nine different ball-carriers totaled 260 yards on 53 carries.

“That’s team,” Chan said of combined rushing effort, “I’m not a big stat guy. It’s all about the scoreboard. I could care less about the stats. It sounds like a cliche, but it’s true.”

While the Cardinals’ double-wing attack ground out 173 rushing yards in the first half, Lowell quarterback Will Frankel provided some flash.

Frankel’s first strike came on McCarthy’s lone reception, when he rolled left and found his fellow senior wide open on a post route down the center of the field to give the Cardinals a 16-0 lead with 3:42 left in the first quarter. On his second, he threw a ball 40 yards in the air to find speedy senior wingback Paul Cho streaking behind the Washington secondary with only 14 seconds remaining in the second quarter to give the Cardinals a commanding 30-8 lead at the break.

Frankel finished with 106 yards and two touchdowns on 3-of-5 passing, but didn’t make a throw after the first half.

“We knew they were coming and we still bit on it,” Washington head coach Taylan Plasch said of the rarely-used Lowell passing game. “Guys got behind us and I think that’s the most I’ve seen Lowell throw this year.”

Lowell only outgained Washington 366-307, but the Eagles (2-6, 2-3) struggled to sustain drives and the Cardinals came up with stops in key situations. Lowell stopped the Eagles on fourth down four times and forced two Washington turnovers.

Lowell senior wingback Paul Cho leaps past a Washington tackler on Friday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Eric Sun)

“We had maybe one or two long drives, but we just needed more big plays,” Plasch said. “We needed some of those big plays go into the end zone, not just to the 10- or 20-yard line.”

Washington had three plays of 48 yards or more. Two were on completions by quarterback Simon Ma, who threw for 188 yards on 11-of-25 passing, and the other was on a 65-yard touchdown run from senior running back Jerron Williams, who finished with a team-high 80 yards on just eight carries.

“[Washington is] not where they used to be, but they have the athletes and we were scared of those guys,” Chan said. “We knew what they have and you saw the big plays we gave up. There’s still plenty of improvements to make.”

The win all but mathematically clinches a playoff spot for the Cardinals, while entirely taking control out of Washington’s hands.

Due to a head-to-head loss to Balboa, the Eagles will likely need the Bucs to lose the rest of their remaining three games to hold on to the AAA’s fourth and final playoff spot. Balboa plays Mission on Saturday.

“Right now, we’re in fourth and Balboa now has two opportunities to come and take it away from us,” Plasch said. “We need them to lose and we need to beat Mission. That’s the only way and that’s a tough task.”

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
L: 6:43 – Paul Cho 24-yard run (William Kim run on conversion)
L: 3:42 – Michael McCarthy 53-yard pass from Will Frankel (Wen Liu run on conversion)
W: 3:29 – Jerron Williams 65-yard run (Williams run on conversion)

Second Quarter
L: 7:20 – Kim 1-yard run (Liu run on conversion)
L: 0:14 – Cho 44-yard pass from Frankel (conversion failed)

Third Quarter
L: 4:58 – Kim 4-yard run (McCarthy kick)
W: 4:26 – Ricky Lee Johnson 15-yard pass from Simon Ma (conversion failed)

Fourth Quarter
L: 8:23 – McCarthy 3-yard run (McCarthy kick)

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14 Comments

  1. BHS says:

    Bal Has a easy schedule after mission with thirdgood Marshal and Galileo

  2. JJ says:

    I don’t think it’s an easy schedule for Balboa. I think Bal has a good chance to lose the rest of their games. Marshall and Balboa have improved mightily. The Mission game is a guarantee L

  3. JJ says:

    I meant GALILEO, not Balboa

  4. Iforgotmyname says:

    Jeremy, as someone who follows these teams quite thoroughly, what is wrong with the eagles this year? Is it the coaching? The talent pool? In your opinion what is it ?

    • jbalan says:

      I think all of it is in play. Depth is an issue with 25 players, but that’s an issue with almost every AAA school (as well as Riordan and SHC). I can’t speak to the coaching from an X’s and O’s standpoint, but it would make sense if Plasch is still getting his bearings in his first year. He did just take over in July.

      • Iforgotmyname says:

        25 GUYS???? SERIOUSLY? WOW WOW WOW WOW. I knew that they had a small roster but 25????????? Goodness christ. Ya but Plasch isn’t really the coach. It’s coach rick from what most of the players have told me. Well we will see what happens next year with Saadiq or whatever that juniors name is taking the starting running back position. Kid is hungry. Well that’s all ahaha thanks for the coverage!

        P.S. Go Orioles!

      • AlumJets says:

        Most team in the AAA have 25 players. Since most AAA athletes play offense and defense, usually like 18 players play the whole game.

  5. Iforgotmyname says:

    Lol Saadiq or whatever your name is. Well i guess if the kid can play….then the kid can play.

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