Sports

South Kitsap names litter county squad

The stated goals from several South Kitsap players before the season were to win the Narrows League Bridge Division and advance to the state playoffs.

South accomplished both with success in all three facets of the game -- offense, defense and special teams -- and at least one Wolves’ player is recognized on the all-Kitsap team in each area.

The all-county team, made up of eligible players from schools in Kitsap County, was voted on by the sports editors and writers of the Kitsap Newspaper Group, including the Port Orchard Independent, Bainbridge Review, Bremerton Patriot, Central Kitsap Reporter and North Kitsap Herald.

2007 All-Kitsap County Football Team

MVP — RB Howard McDonald, Central Kitsap, junior — Former Central Kitsap quarterback Zac Brown had a quick assessment of McDonald after CK’s 49-21 win against South Kitsap on Sept. 14. Brown said with how much McDonald spins, twists, leaps, squirms and fights his way down field, watching him run was like playing Madden, the popular video game.

McDonald’s numbers support that observation, as he ran to 1,619 yards on 242 carries with 17 rushing touchdowns. He also was an above-average linebacker, recording 44 tackles with a sack, a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries.

Coach of the Year — Mark Keel, Central Kitsap — With a group that largely consisted of underclassmen, the Cougars lost their first seven games in 2006. A year later -- with the Cougars rallying from three consecutive wins to close last season -- CK finished with a 9-2 record. Its only losses came against two other teams that advanced to state -- Bothell and Olympia.

Last season, the Cougars were 0-7 with three games to go, playing a group made up largely of underclassmen with things not looking much brighter. But Keel rallied his team to three consecutive wins to close the season. So when 2007 began, Keel told his players to stay motivated, to remember the feeling of that win streak.

It worked.

CK finished the regular season at 9-1, second only to an Olympia team that beat them. CK advanced all the way to the state playoffs, falling in the round of 16 to Bothell, still alive in the race for the state’s 4A crown.

Oh yeah, and CK only had 11 seniors this season.

Offense

QB — Jason Simonis, Central Kitsap, junior — Simonis, who hit a growth spurt prior to the season that saw him grow from a 5-foot-11 sophomore into a 6-3 junior, experienced a much more important growth spurt this season. Simonis learned what it means to be poised in the pocket this season, completing 73 of 134 pass attempts for a 54.5 completion percentage. Simonis finished with 1,296 yards and 12 scores to just four interceptions. He also ran in two more scores.

RB — Andre Moore, Klahowya, junior — Moore had no problems replacing the graduated Isaac Solaita. Not only did Moore take Soliata’s jersey number (4), he also took his spot in the Eagles’ record books, breaking the new school record for rushing yards in a season with 1,573 yards on 163 carries for a 9.6 average. He was able to score 17 touchdowns on the ground, while adding another score and 46 yards through the air. Defensively, Moore was a standout defensive back, recording 89 tackles along with two picks and three sacks.

RB — Stephen Tucker, South Kitsap, senior — Quality running play was a staple of South Kitsap football when it reached the state playoffs every season from 1980 to 2002, a Washington record. Tucker became the latest star running back for the Wolves, who returned to state for the first time in five years behind his 1,329 yards and 14 touchdowns on 187 carries. “He had a great season and definitely lived up to our expectations,” South Kitsap coach D.J. Sigurdson said. “He was a captain and really did a nice job in that role.”

WR — Dimitri Alston, Bremerton, junior — Alston was one of the biggest benefactors of the reins being loosened on quarterback Jacob Belden. While Belden took some time to hit his stride, he was able to connect with Alston to the tune of 376 receiving yards and four scores on 16 receptions.

WR — Jack Clearman, Kingston, senior — Despite Kingston’s winless season, No. 9 was all over the field for the Buccaneers. Clearman finished the 2007 season with 61 receptions for 838 yards and 10 touchdowns. Clearman’s run-after-the-catch ability resulted in him averaging 13.7 yards per reception. “He goes and gets the ball in the air,” Kingston coach Dan Novick said earlier this season. “That’s the kind of mentality you need at the receiver position.”

TE — Caleb Brown, Central Kitsap, senior — The state’s No. 24 recruit according to washingtonpreps.com, was huge on both sides of the ball. Brown, who holds an offer from Air Force, caught 25 passes for 689 yards and eight touchdowns. As a safety, Brown logged 36 tackles with four picks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He also had 173 yards and two touchdowns on punt returns.

OL — Dominic Cruz, Klahowya, sophomore — Cruz got more than enough experience in 2007. The Klahowya lineman was known throughout the school for his work ethic, with running back Cody Hertenstein as well as other Eagles pointing out Cruz as the standard for “working his butt off.”

OL — Brad Fedderson, South Kitsap, senior — South Kitsap featured three running backs -- Stephen Tucker, Ryan Williams and Sean Allison -- who rushed for 100-yard games this season. Sigurdson attributed some of their success to tight end Matt Foxworthy, whom he regarded as the team’s best blocker and Fedderson, the Wolves’ top offensive lineman. “He has a tremendous work ethic and he’s come as far as anyone,” Sigurdson said.

OL — Gary French, Bainbridge, senior — French was part of a talented offensive line that helped clear the way for Bainbridge’s top running backs to gain more than 2,500 yards this season despite playing with two hip flexors. He also contributed on the defensive line with 32 tackles and one sack.

OL — David Reynolds, Olympic, senior — Despite his small stature for a lineman -- he was listed at 5-foot-11, 220 pounds -- Reynolds was regarded as the top lineman in the Olympic League by Olympic coach Eric Allen. As a defensive lineman, Allen had 36 tackles to help the Trojans reach the state preliminary round for the first time in 11 years.

OL — Cecil Spence, Central Kitsap, senior — While CK was short on seniors, Spence was one of several that keyed up an offensive line that allowed McDonald, Brown, Simonis and Co. to put up more than 3,000 total yards this season. Defensively, Spence recorded 23 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble for the Cougars.

Defense

DL — Dayton Gilbreath, Bainbridge, senior — Similar to his older brother Bryan, Dayton was a threat to score every time he touched the ball for the Spartans this season, contributing on defense (with 55 tackles, four sacks and four fumble recoveries), offense (rushing for 1,119 yards and 18 touchdowns and catching 12 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown) and special teams (returning two punts for scores).

DL — Rashad Greene, Olympic, senior — Greene was one of the Trojans’ biggest playmakers as he finished with 5 1/2 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a block. Greene also rushed for 479 yards and 11 touchdowns on 62 carries.

DL — Kyle McCown, North Kitsap, senior — McCown finished with nine tackles for a loss and five sacks on the season. He also was one of the hardest hitters on the team.

DL — Will Morris, Central Kitsap, senior — The 6-foot, 260-pound Morris had deceptive speed and agility that helped him crack the opposition’s offensive line as he recorded 26 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.

LB — Josh Burlingame, South Kitsap, senior — After missing nearly the entire 2006 season with a torn anterior-cruciate ligament in his right knee, the 5-foot-9 1/2-inch, 207-pound Burlingame returned the Wolves’ “emotional leader” on defense, according to South Kitsap coach D.J. Sigurdson. Burlingame led the Wolves with 76 tackles and was known as the team’s hardest hitter. “He has a fire burning inside of him to play football,” Sigurdson said. “He’s a throwback guy. He just wants to play.”

LB — Chris Martindale, Bremerton, senior — Martindale was a prolific tackler for Knights, recording 90 tackles with a sack, a pick and two fumble recoveries. While Martindale won't be back to try to help the Knights continue the growing process, his example will remain as one to follow.

LB — Chris Wade, Kingston, senior — Wade always was around the ball, which was evident by the team-high 77 tackles he made in Kingston’s eigth games. “Chris reallly cut loose and was playing recklessly in a positive way,” Kingston coach Dan Novick said after a late September game against Sequim. “He set the tone for the defense. For a second I thought I saw (Chicago Bears’ Hall of Famer) Dick Butkus out there.”

DB — Cody Hertenstein, Klahowya, junior — Another key two-way player, Hertenstein helped the Eagles on both sides of the ball and ultimately, back to the state preliminary round. He ran for 749 yards on 140 carries while scoring eight times in addition to his defensive numbers: 62 tackles and an interception. Hertenstein also was a special-teams standout as he recorded three blocks on punts and kicks.

DB — Glen Hewey, Central Kitsap, senior — Hewey might have been overlooked by some because of Brown’s presence in the secondary, but he was one of the team’s most consistent performers. He finished with 23 tackles and four interceptions.

DB — Blake Johnson, Olympic, sophomore — Quarterbacks might not look Johnson’s way next season after he intercepted 11 passes and recorded 62 tackles. On offense, he was quarterback Zach Bird’s top receiver with 201 yards and four touchdowns on 12 receptions.

DB — Greg Ottele, North Kitsap, senior — A multi-talented Mr. Everything, Ottele finished the year with four interceptions from his strong safety position. The hard-hitting senior also played well on the offensive side of the ball, finishing with 364 rushing yards.

Special Teams

K — Zach Sampson, North Kitsap, junior — Sampson connected on 21 of 23 extra points for the Vikings this year. He also booted a 39-yard field goal breaking a school record that had stood for 20 years in the final game of the season against Port Angeles. He scored 29 points and averaged 48.7 yards on each kickoff this year.

P — Kevin McCormick, Bainbridge, sophomore — McCormick did the job for the Spartans this season with his strong leg, punting 25 times for 807 yards, averaging 32.3 yards per punt and pinning opponents deep in its territory time after time.

RET — Ryan Williams, South Kitsap, junior — The Wolves’ star return man follows his older brother, Renard, who now is at Eastern Washington, on the all-Kitsap team. Sigurdson said his initial reaction when he saw the younger Williams, who weighs 100 pounds less than his brother, was “those guys are related?” but it didn’t take long for him to get recognized. He had kickoff returns of 93, 89 and 84 yards this year -- all for touchdowns. “You can’t coach that stuff,” Sigurdson said. “He was a lighting strike every once in awhile.”

Honorable mention

QB — Paul Bagala, Kingston, junior — Bagala threw for 1,338 yards and ran for 373 in his first season as a starting quarterback. He also tossed 11 touchdown passes and had two rushing touchdowns.

LB — Garrett Brown, Olympic, junior — Brown was responsible for what will go down as one of the biggest games of the season for Olympic. In the season finale with Peninsula, Brown -- with a cast on his left arm -- returned both a fumble and an interception for scores to help Oly win the league title. Brown finished with 63 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks and a fumble recovery.

KR — Ryan Cleaver, North Kitsap, senior — Cleaver was adept at following his blockers throughout the season. Cleaver took back two kickoffs for scores in 2007. He averaged 28.6 yards per kick return. Perhaps his most acrobatic play of the season game against Wilson High School Oct 26. “He probably ran 300 yards to get those 90 yards he got,” NK coach Steve Frease said after the game. “He was running all over the field until he found a way to score. That kid doesn’t quit.”

RB — Ross Cobb, Bainbridge, junior — Before a concussion ended his season, Cobb led the team in rushing for a time and was the speedster that complimented Gilbreath’s brusing style. He finished with 736 yards on just 69 carries and scored eight touchdowns.

RB — Larry Dixon, Olympic, sophomore — Dixon would’ve been an obvious choice for the all-Kitsap team most years, but in a year of crowded running backs (six backs topped 1,000 yards in Kitsap in 2007), he was one of a few left off. He rushed for 1,462 yards on 164 carries, scoring 12 times while adding a receiving score as well.

OL/DL — Matt Foxworthy, South Kitsap, senior — Sigurdson regarded him as the Wolves’ top blocker and he was one of the team’s most consistent performers on both sides of the ball. He finished with 27 tackles. “We haven’t had a tight end block like him,” Sigurdson said. “We were able to run the ball over there well largely in part of him.”

OL — Greg Gole, Central Kitsap, senior — Gole made a sacrifice for his team in switching to the line, a position he had never played before his final campaign. Gore’s selflessness aided an offense that was one of the West Sound’s most explosive. He also had 24 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble on defense.

RB/DB — Alex Griffin, Bremerton, senior — Griffin, a state track runner, used his speed to burn defenses for 448 yards and three touchdowns as a change-of-pace back for the Knights. As a receiver, he caught eight passes for 294 yards and three scores. Defensively, he made 30 tackles and recorded an interception and a fumble recovery.

DB — Brandon Joiner, Central Kitsap, senior — Joiner was another big part of CK’s pass defense, as the CK senior recorded 28 tackles along with an interception and a fumble recovery. He was also big on special teams, coming up with two blocks for the Cougars.

DL — Matt Mehs, South Kitsap, senior — Defensive linemen typically don’t register many tackles, but Mehs was active from the end spot. He finished with 73 tackles —- the second-highest total on the team behind Burlingame (76). “He’s just one of those blue-collar kids,” Sigurdson said. “He’s definitely a gamer.”

DL — Zane Sackett, Bainbridge, junior — With 42 tackles, Sackett was part of a talented defensive line that forced many runners into the backfield. He also played on the offensive line and opened many holes for Spartan runners to shoot through.

DB — Alex Schell, Klahowya, senior — Schell was one of just five seniors at Klahowya this season, but had the most impact of the small group. A leader on defense, Schell logged 57 tackles to go with two interceptions in his final hurrah. That leadership, as well as his on-field ability, will be missed in 2008.

LB — Justin Shaputis, Klahowya, senior — Shaputis was another strong role-playing senior for the Eagles as he finished with 18 tackles and two sacks.

RB — Jamaal Smith, North Kitsap, senior — Despite only competing in five games, Smith finished 470 yards rushing on 75 carries.

QB/LB — Chad Tester, South Kitsap, senior — He won’t put anyone in awe from a statistical standpoint, but Tester’s value came in his versatility and selflessness. He volunteered to move to quarterback when both of the Wolves’ 2006 starters graduated and then shifted from safety, where he’s received recruiting attention, to linebacker to fill a void. He finished with 45 tackles. “He’s probably one of the most unselfish kids I’ve dealt with,” Sigurdson said. “We had a meeting and he told me he would do whatever we needed him to do.”

DB — Deanzalo Thomas, Olympic, junior — Thomas came up with several big plays for the Trojans this season, picking off four passes to go with 26 tackles and a fumble recovery.

DL — Alex Van Deen, Kingston, junior — Just one of a handful of North Kitsap starters to make the switch, Van Deen brought some experience to the Bucs.

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