No.1 Wolves gear up for revenge-minded Bethel

"The state’s hightest-ranked 4A high school football teams will butt heads at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lincoln Bowl when the South Kitsap Wolves (10-0) entertain the Bethel Braves (11-0) in a state quarterfinal playoff game.Fresh off shutting out Kelso 24-0 in the first round, SK faces Bethel in the quarterfinals for the second time in three years. In 1997, the Wolves pummled Bethel 55-9 en route to the title game and a second-place finish.SK coach D.J. Sigurdson said both teams are much different from two years ago, but admitted Bethel’s seniors will have a revenge factor.“Yeah, I think they definitely remember that (1997) game,” Sigurdson said. “They remember playing us and remember that it wasn’t too fun.”Sigurdson said this SK team is a lot different then the 1997 edition, with those seniors having only lost two games their entire high school career.He also noted different changes in personnel.“Bethel had a different head coach and I was not calling the offense,” he said. “Our offense was more balanced and we threw the ball better then we do now. We are two different teams but have in common these seniors who have played against each other.”On the field, both teams have similarities.Before its narrow 17-10 first-round playoff win against Lake Washington last week, Bethel was scoring 42 points per game and winning by 21 points or more.“I know they score a lot of points on defense, too,” Sigurdson said. “Their defense is very aggressive and active. On offense, they run the ball predominantly.”Bethel coach Eric Kurle said his team’s defense has been solid all year and came through last week while two offensive stars nursed injuries.“Our kids are physical and tough,” Kurle said. “They’re the most competitive team I’ve had and a lot quicker (than past Bethel teams). Our kids like to fly around and they’re quick to the ball.”Kurle said his offense is similar to SK’s, with the running game being the primary source of offense. Leading the way have been seniors Adam Linke and Derek Morris. But both have suffered injuries, giving way to junior running back Mark Hitchner.Linke and Morris have each run for more than 600 yards and Hitchner has followed with 500 yards.Quarterback Javid Shoemaker adds another dimension to the offense with 900 passing yards and another 600 on the ground.Kurle said he hopes his offense will runs on all cylinders Friday. Linke has been on crutches for the last two weeks and Morris twisted his knee in the game last week.SK will prepare for Bethel as if everyone is healthy.“Linke is a good, tough athlete,” Sigurdson said. “I don’t know if he’s the fastest on the team, but he’s tough and hard-nosed.”Kurle said his team knows what to do to be successful.“We need to stop their tailback (Roger Cooper) and their quarterback (Jimmy Newell),” the Bethel mentor said. “It would help if we can keep their quarterback in the pocket.” Bethel will be the toughest foe SK has faced this season, said Wolves senior defensive end Bryan Lefler.“They’re big and physical, just like they were last time we played them,” Lefler said. “They’re definitely out to get us. It’s going to be a good game and it will be physical. We’ll be ready to play and they will, too.”Kurle said his players also know they’re facing a tough team in South Kitsap.“These are two great football teams, and hopefully it’ll show Friday night,” he said."

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