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Wolves face Bellarmine in loser-out cross-over contest

"It takes only one word to motivate the South Kitsap High School football team: Bellarmine.The lustrous rivalry continues at SK’s Joe Knowles Field Friday at 7 p.m.The Wolves also have incentive to win because they will face posts-season elimination in every game they play from here on out.Bellarmine’s Lions, the No. 3 team out of the Narrows League’s Bay Division, makes the journey to Port Orchard and a match with the NL’s No. 1 Bridge Division team with revenge on their minds.It will be exactly one year to the day that SK escaped Bellarmine’s clutches with a 37-30 victory.“Oh, they’ll be pumped,” SK linebacker Josh Reid said. “Bellarmine is always a great rivalry. It’s always nice to to play Bellarmine, because you always know it’s going to be a fun game.”The Wolves may not have had fun last year when they were leading 30-22 before the Lions marched up the field and scored a touchdown and two-point conversion to tie the score with 50 seconds remaining.Fortunately for SK, John Sehmel returned the kickoff from his own 26-yard line to the Bellarmine 14-yard line with 14 seconds left. A Jimmy McCary pass in the corner of the end zone to a leaping Dustin Booth gave the Wolves the victory and a trip to the state playoffs.The same loser-out scenario will take place, only this time is host before a likely standing-room only crowd.SK quarterback Jimmy Newell said the rivalry with Bellarmine is something players know about from their childhood.“You would always hear about the great Bellarmine-South rivalry and all the stuff the fans would do,” Newell said. “Getting to play them last year was a great game and a lot of fun. So hopefully, we’ll have the same type of game this year.”The Wolves’ defense will key on Bellarmine’s running attack led by junior Eric Bailey. The 5-10, 175-pounder contains a lethal combination of speed and toughness. He is coming off a 294-yard performance on 36 carries in a win against Stadium.SK coach D.J. Sigurdson is quick to point out the offense is not just a run-oriented team.Junior quarterback Adam Hannula is another Bellarmine weapon, Sigurdson said. “He played a lot against us last year,” Sigurdson said. “They’re doing the same stuff, sprinting out, throwing deep outs and post corners, and he’s very good at it. He throws the ball well.”Gone is Bellarmine’s senior-laden team from a year ago, but Sigurdson said this season’s squad is big and plays the same style.Though SK defeated Peninsula 32-6 last Friday, the Wolves were not pleased with their performance.“We didn’t play well on offense or defense,” fullback Brandon Trent said. “If we play like that, we’re not going to go too far (in the playoffs). We know we didn’t play so well, so it will be a tough week of practice.”It wasn’t too long after the Peninsula game the players were already thinking about Bellarmine and defending their turf.“They have the revenge factor,” Newell said of the Lions. “Both teams are going to be sky high.”Bellarmine coach Mike Baldassin said the goal for his team was to be in position for a state playoff berth in week nine of the season, even if in a loser-out game with SK.“We’re used to the prospects of playing SK,” Baldassin said. “We had a great game with them last year and it’s a friendly rivalry.“It’ll be a tough game for us. They’re a great team this year. We might be outmatched, but we’ll come ready to play.”Bailey and Hannula give Baldassin hope this week.“Eric (Bailey) in a way has carried the running game for us,” Baldassin said. “Adam (Hannula) didn’t start last year, but he’s really stepped up and allowed us to bring in a new dimension.”Baldassin, who’s in his fourth year as head coach and eighth year overall, said he’s kept a video file on South Kitsap from the last eight years. As he relives games from past years, Baldassin said he can’t help but admire the Wolves.“I have nothing but respect for Sigurdson and his program,” Baldassin said. “We try to model our program after his. They definitely set the tone for the Narrows League.”"

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