One and done for Wolves

South Kitsap used an assortment of running backs successfully in its run to 23 consecutive state-playoff appearances.

But in the Wolves’ first state appearance in five years, it a pair of Graham-Kapowsin running backs that ran through and around them.

Marcel Smith rushed for 210 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries to lead Graham Kapowsin to a 41-20 win Friday night in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs at Art Crate Field in Graham. South was eliminated from the playoffs with the loss.

The Wolves (7-4), who finished with their most wins since they won nine games in 2002, struggled to contain Demitrius Bronson (Kentwood) and Howie McDonald (Central Kitap) in a couple other losses, but the Eagles’ two-back combination was perhaps even more problematic. South coach D.J. Sigurdson said that was the case even with as many as nine defenders dedicated to stopping the run at times.

“It’s very difficult because they’re both very good,” he said. “The tailback (Smith), you look at him and he’s smaller than the other kid, but he broke a ton of tackles.”

Besides the 185-pound Smith, fullback Chris Ratteray also ran for 124 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries for the Eagles (8-3), who advance to play undefeated Ferris at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane. Ratteray, a 260-pound transfer from Thomas Jefferson, only became part of the running game last week after initially playing on the offensive line.

“We saw him last week for the first time,” Sigurdson said. “I wasn’t sure if it was kind of a nuance he was going to do against that team because they’re used to throwing the ball a little bit more. But we knew he was there. He’s a big, physical athletic kid -- we didn’t tackle him.”

While South couldn’t contain the big-play backs, the Wolves’ offense tried to keep pace. South took a 7-0 lead on the sixth play of the game when quarterback Chad Tester found Devlan Miller for a 55-yard touchdown.

“We came out on the first drive and looked good, but you’ve got to play defense,” Sigurdson.

The momentum was short-lived for that reason as Graham-Kapowsin responded with its own long touchdown -- a 65-yard pass -- from Jeff Logan to Rashad Peniston to take an 8-7 lead after a successful two-point conversion.

It was a lead the Eagles wouldn’t relinquish.

Graham-Kapowsin scored on each of its next three possessions -- a 5-yard run by Smith and 28- and 5-yard runs by Ratteray -- to take a 28-7 lead.

Game over? Not quite.

With star running back Stephen Tucker out with a shoulder injury, South turned to Sean Allison, who scored on a 3-yard run and finished with 70 yards on 13 carries as the Wolves cut the deficit to 28-14 with 1 minute, 25 seconds left in the half.

Two plays later, Logan was hit as he released the ball and linebacker Josh Burlingame intercepted the wobbly pass. Tester found Miller for a 17-yard touchdown pass and a 21-point Eagles’ lead suddenly became 28-20 at halftime.

“I don’t think we ever gave up,” South quarterback Chad Tester said. “We fought the whole time.”

After the interception, Graham-Kapowsin returned to the running game in the second half as Ratteray rushed for a 9-yard touchdown, his third of the game, in the third quarter. The Eagles’ final score came on a 21-yard pass from Logan to Peniston with 7:07 left in the game.

“They just kind of got a head start and kept pecking away at us and it was too much in the end,” Tester said.

Graham-Kapowsin had nine possessions in the game and scored touchdowns on six of those drives. One ended with an interception and a late drive in the waning moments of the game resulted in a punt. The Eagles also downed the ball to run out the clock at the end of the game.

With the Wolves’ defense unable to stop Smith and Ratteray, their offense only had three possessions in the second half and gained just one first down.

“I feel bad for our kids,” Sigurdson said. “I wanted them to experience more.”

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