Wolves to be tested early, often next fall

South Kitsap Coach D.J. Sigurdson and his team will have their work cut out for them next season. - Jesse Beals/Staff Photo
South Kitsap Coach D.J. Sigurdson and his team will have their work cut out for them next season.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/Staff Photo

Coming off its first state appearance in five years, the South Kitsap High School football team might feel like it’s playing a playoff schedule at Joe Knowles Field this fall.

The Wolves’ recently released schedule features Narrows League home games against Stadium (Sept. 5), Gig Harbor (Sept. 26), Bellarmine Prep (Oct. 10) and Olympia (Oct. 24).

It will be the first meeting between South and Bellarmine Prep since the Wolves won a league-playoff game, 32-27, in 1999. This year’s meeting between the schools will be South’s homecoming game.

“It’s been a number of years since that game was played,” said South coach D.J. Sigurdson, whose team finished 7-4 last season. “That was a huge rivalry for us before.”

In addition to Bellarmine, Sigurdson is excited about home games against Tides, who the Wolves beat 7-0 last season to earn their first win over Gig Harbor in five years, and Olympia.

South lost 33-14 against the Bears in last year’s Narrows crossover game.

“Three big games against big opponents at home,” Sigurdson said. “That’s good for us and football in Port Orchard.”

The Narrows also scrapped the Bay and Bridge Divisions for next season. Last year, a game against CK was considered a nonleague contest because South was in the Bridge Division, while the Cougars played in the Bay. In addition to those games, the Wolves played two games out of the Narrows last season against Kentwood and Clover Park.

“Still being able to play some of those rivalry games, but having them count, means a lot,” Sigurdson said.

This year will feature just one nonleague game when Franklin Pierce plays at Joe Knowles Field on Sept. 19.

The Cardinals, whose offensive coordinator is former Washington State quarterback Jason Gesser, advanced to the Class 3A state semifinals a year ago. The Narrows and South Puget Sound League 3A, where Franklin Pierce plays, agreed to play a nonleague contest together this year.

“It definitely will generate some energy and enthusiasm,” Sigurdson said.

South’s road schedule includes Central Kitsap (Sept. 5), Shelton (Oct. 3), Foss (Oct. 17) and Lincoln (Oct. 31).

Shelton rejoined the Narrows after a two-year absence when it became a 4A school based on the latest enrollment figures.

The Highclimbers replace North Kitsap, which moved down to 3A.

One scheduling quirk has the Wolves hosting Gig Harbor and playing at CK for a second consecutive year. Sigurdson said that’s because the league abandoned separate divisions and reset the master schedule.

“They just redrew it completely so there’s going to be those anomalies in there,” he said. “It was a give-and-take. For Gig Harbor, it’s a bummer that they have to come here and it’s a bummer for us that we have to go back to CK again. But it was equitable — everyone had at least one of those situations.”

Another difference for the Wolves is playing their two biggest rivals, CK and Gig Harbor, both in September.

The latter contest generally is the last regular-season game for both schools.

The last time South played both schools in September was 2001.

“It’s nice to have those big rivalry games later in the season when the energy level is up,” said Sigurdson, adding that he’s not opposed to playing those games early in the season.

“But it will be a tremendous motivator for the kids and us coaches to get prepared,” he said.

The Wolves’ nonleague schedule doesn’t figure to get any easier in 2009 as Sigurdson has been contacted about playing in the Emerald City Kickoff Classic at Qwest Field.

South previously played in the Seattle game in 2005, where it lost 35-33 against KingCo 3A’s Mercer Island.

He said that hasn’t been finalized, but it will be a consideration if offered.

South’s offseason schedule this year will change. Sigurdson announced earlier this year that the Wolves no longer would attend camp at Eastern Washington University, where he played linebacker from 1986-89.

He said the day-long trip from Port Orchard to Cheney had become “cost-prohibitive” for the program.

Instead, the Wolves will move their summer practices to July 7-11 and scrimmage the following day at Purdy’s Roy Anderson Field against Peninsula and Wilson.

They have a team camp July 20-23 at the University of Puget Sound.

Sigurdson said it will be a busy offseason as South must replace first-team Narrows League Bridge Division selections Josh Burlingame (linebacker), Brad Feddersen (offensive and defensive line), Matt Foxworthy (tight end), Quincy Lyman (kicker), Matt Mehs (defensive line), Chad Tester (linebacker), Stephen Tucker (running back) and David Wells (punt), all of whom graduate.

“We lose a bunch of solid seniors,” Sigurdson said. “We have some very good kids playing here, but we don’t have any experience.”

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