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Mistake-plagued Wolves fall to Bellarmine Prep | Football
TACOMA — He hoped it would be a league-championship quality game.
But South Kitsap coach Eric Canton’s vision ended when the Wolves committed five turnovers en route to a 31-12 loss Friday night at Bellarmine Prep in a Class 4A Narrows League contest.
“It was not a lack of effort,” Canton said. “We played really hard.”
Perhaps too hard.
At least that was Canton’s perspective. His team was so excited about the opportunity to upset the defending league champion that they pressed.And maybe did not focus enough. Senior cornerback Bryce Broome forced a fumble, which was recovered by linebacker Michael Beard, at South’s 4-yard line. Three plays later, senior running back Adam Gascoyne had an 18-yard run to the Wolves’ 45. But during the ensuing play, South was called for an illegal shift and the drive stalled. It was a reoccurring theme.
While the offense suffered some debilitating mistakes — South was penalized seven times — its defense struggled to contain the Lions (3-1 overall, 2-0 league). Bellarmine drove down to the Wolves’ 40 on their second possession, where they faced third-and-10. A South defender appeared to have University of Colorado-bound quarterback Sefo Liufau tracked down for a sack, but he sidestepped him and fired toward the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown to Garrett McKay.
“That goes from potentially a fumble to a touchdown,” Canton said.
But Canton said Liufau, who is a dual threat despite his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame, is difficult to tackle.
“He is a high school Ben Roethlisberger,” he said, referring to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ standout quarterback. “You’re not going to give him a knockout blow.”
The Wolves (3-1, 1-1) responded on their next possession early in the second quarter when quarterback Kevin Whatley pitched the ball to Marshaud DeWalt, who found Bryce Broome open for a 62-yard completion. Two plays later, Whatley connected with Broome for a 5-yard touchdown. Broome has scored in every game this season. But a botched snap resulted in the Lions maintaining a 7-6 edge.
They would extend that lead on their next possession when Liufau, who completed 19 of 26 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns, found Calvin Chandler for a 20-yard scoring pass to take a 14-6 advantage. Bellarmine extended that to 17-6 when a Whatley interception gave them possession at South’s 30. Matthew Philichi made a 21-yard field goal with 4:40 remaining in the half, but missed from 44 yards out with just 6 seconds remaining before intermission.
The Wolves received a break early in the second half when Whatley was intercepted by Donovan Quiocho, but the Lions were unable to translate that into points when Philichi missed a 24-yard field goal.
It appeared South would take advantage of that when Whatley found senior wide receiver Nic Stoner open in the end zone. But Stoner could not corral his pass, and Whatley was intercepted by McKay two plays later.
Bellarmine, which has defeated the Wolves three consecutive years for the first time in program history, made sure South would not have another opportunity. Liufau capped an eight-play drive by finding Drew Griffin for a 19-yard touchdown to give the Lions a 24-6 lead with 11:01 left in the game.
Broome responded by returning the kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, but Liufau needed just three plays to find Griffin for an 81-yard touchdown pass to complete the scoring.
“I haven’t seen a quarterback throw like that since we faced Lakes’ Drew Miller in 1994,” Canton said. “He is impressive.”
The Wolves final two possessions ended with a Whatley interception and a fumble by Gascoyne.
And instead of eyeing its first league championship since 2009, South now potentially finds itself outside of the playoffs — at least for now. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association still has not released how many playoff berths 4A Narrows will receive, but it could be as few as three. The setback pushed the Wolves into a tie for fourth place with Central Kitsap. Yelm and next Friday’s opponent, Olympia (1-3, 1-0), which defeated Stadium 54-7 on Friday, are undefeated in league play along with Bellarmine.
“It puts us right back in the middle of the pack,” Canton said. “We’ve got work to do, plain and simple.”
But Broome remains confident South can emerge from that predicament.