South Kitsap braces for Kelso's option attack

"The South Kitsap Wolves and the Kelso Highlanders will put their high school football seasons on the line at Bremerton Memorial Field tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.The No. 1 state-ranked Wolves (9-0) take on a Kelso team (7-3) which is on a seven-game winning streak.Resembling an option offense, Kelso plays with a two-running back formation and the quarterback dives, keeps the ball and runs or pitches it.No matter what Kelso brings to the field, SK may have the advantage physically since it has plenty of time to prepare since it defeated Bellarmine eight days ago.The Highlanders will be playing its third game in 10 days, which raises some concern for their coach, Pat Hymes.“We’re playing pretty well, but we just played Tuesday night and only have until Saturday to play,” Hymes said. “The game plan is important. Three games in 10 days physically takes it out of you.”SK coach D.J. Sigurdson said it’s not fun playing so often.“We’ve done it once before and it’s very difficult,” Sigurdson said. “You have to be so smart about how you spend your time. You have to prepare for the team you are going to play next and balance that with rest.”Hymes said his players will be ready.“Kids are pretty resilient,” Hymes said. “We’re in for a war and we understand that. We’ll get all our ducks in a row by Saturday.”Hymes said both teams take simple approaches to the game.“We’re not complicated,” Hymes said. “We run a 50 and even front (defense). We don’t flash a bunch at the line. We rely on good technique and rally to the football.”Hymes’ team has size on both sides of the ball, but he said his team doesn’t match up to SK in height or weight.The Highlanders have run a successful option offense with the contributions of senior running back Paul Richey and junior quarterback Nate Cundiff.Richey has rushed for 930 yards and 13 touchdowns and has caught enough passes for 300 yards and six more touchdowns.Cundiff, who runs a lot because of the option, has thrown 10 touchdown passes.“He’s running the option well for us,” Hymes said. “He doesn’t throw the ball a lot, but he’s thrown well.”Kelso has rebounded from an 0-3 record after defeats by Captial (26-20), Columbia River (19-0) and Evergreen (35-0).After facing teams that run the wing-t and split-back formations, Hymes said he knows his defense needs to make the transition to stop SK’s power-I formation.Sigurdson noted the Wolves have not faced a veer offense, but he said the defense will be prepared.The Highlanders, whose home is 30 miles north of Vancouver, also will have a travel disadvantage. Tuesday they played in Auburn and must make the trip to Bremerton tonight.“You still gotta get them ready to go,” Sigurdson said. “They will be tired, but it’s just a matter of how much adrenaline they create on big plays,” Sigurdson said."

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