Former Cascade Christian High stars Jaelin Goldsmith and Hunter Murfitt had quite the high school football careers during their four years in the storied Class 1A powerhouse program.
One year ago today, both were on a mission to claim something that haunted them their entire prep careers. And with hard work, it all paid off at the Tacoma Dome last season when the Cougars lifted the 1A state championship.
“It was a great feeling … I didn’t want to let go of the trophy (after the game),” Murfitt said.
Now, with both players headed off to college — Goldsmith to Wheaton College in Chicago and Murfitt to Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas — it was time to reflect how each player took a different path to become a state champions with the Cougars.
“We didn’t just want to win our games and say were the better team that game,” Goldsmith said. “We wanted to get our varsity out by halftime, and put up a score that no one could question whether we were the better team.”
Last year, two distinct stories were written on these two athletes.
Goldsmith was that boisterous leader, always with a quip as quick as his feet that sparked the Cougar offense. And then there was Murfitt, the quiet example of what it means to be a Cascade Christian football player — the one coaches could point to as the example every Cougar to aspire to.
“Last year’s graduating class was special,” defensive coordinator Devin Snyder said. “They put in a ton of work to win that championship.”
For Murfitt, it has always been about proving his worth. Before Murfitt was able to clog up running lanes as a defensive tackle for the Cougars, he made a challenge to his coaches: He wanted to start as a sophomore.
“I saw the guy who I was competing against wasn’t working as hard as I was at practice or lifting weights, and I told the coaches I wanted his spot,” Murfitt said. “They were telling me, ‘Okay Hunter, you can go for it.’”
Murfitt took his coaches seriously and proved that he was one of the best 11 guys on the field every game.
“He came up to us and said he wanted (this senior’s) spot. We allowed him to compete for it, and he ended up starting every game for after that,” Snyder said.
“After the coaches put me in, I knew then that they would live up to their word of putting the best guys on the field,” Murfitt said.
While Murffit earned every snap he took for Cascade Christian, Goldsmith was ushered in as the starting quarterback since his freshman year.
It’s rare for a high school to find a player with the ability to throw and run the way Goldsmith could. Yet, even with his talent, he still had to learn the ropes.
“Becoming a leader was hard at first, especially as a freshman,” Goldsmith said. “As a quarterback, I knew I was going to start, but I still had to go out and earn it … I had to prove that I was the right choice, even if I didn’t prove myself like Hunter did.”
For a quarterback, it’s about taking the steps in becoming that invaluable piece to every football team. Goldsmith did just that while at Cascade Christian. Never settling for the success he had, Goldsmith found ways to improve himself both on the field and personally.
“You have to find ways to improve,” Goldsmith said. “You can always grow — as a person, as a man, as a Christian in leadership — you can always grow in those areas and make an impact doing it.”
Every week Goldsmith made an impact, either with his arm or his legs, and the current Wheaton Thunder player just knew how to put his team on his back.
After the state title game in the Dome, it was Goldsmith draping the 1A most valuable player medal around his neck. It was his last time carrying the Cougars to victory.
And as soon as the trophy was passed around, there was Murfitt clinging to it. Like most fall games, Murfitt wouldn’t budge an inch.
“I walked off with the trophy and brought it to the locker room … I held on to it for a long time,” Murfitt said, laughing.
For his teammates, it never mattered. Just like every Cougar, he earned that right.
“I didn’t head back to the locker room right away … but I know I got back like 45 minutes or an hour later,” Goldsmith said. “I got back and Hunter was still holding the trophy. I didn’t care, I knew I would get my picture with it back at the school.”