South Kitsap's season ends in a blowout

"Opportunity ceased to exist for the error-plagued South Kitsap High School football team last Friday.The No.1-ranked Wolves, who showed up undefeated and hoping for an 11th consecutive win that would move them within one more victory of a state championship game, concluded their 1999 season at Lincoln Bowl with a 27-6 loss to No. 2 Bethel (12-0) in a state 4A quarterfinal playoff.Not only did the Wolves (10-1) make mistakes, but they couldn’t capitalize on Bethel’s errors in the first half.There was a glimmer of momentum for SK on Bethel’s first possession, when the Braves’ Mark Hitchner fumbled the ball and John Sehmel recovered it on his team’s 46-yard line.But SK was forced to punt after three unsuccessful plays, and Hitchner raced up the middle to block Jimmy Newell’s punt, which rolled all the way to the nine-yard line.That block proved indicative of how the game would transpire.Bethel running back John Shields scored on a seven-yard run for the first touchdown of the game.A pair of long field goals (42 and 35 yards) from Bethel’s all-around player, Scott Burcar, gave Bethel a 13-0 advantage going into halftime.Though the Wolves’ defense held tough in the first half, their usually potent offense sputtered.The offense showed signs of resurgence on its opening drive of the second half as junior quarterback Anthony Fein was inserted and Newell was moved to wide receiver. The strategy produced a a 39-yard Fein-to-Newell pass to Newell to put SK in Bethel territory. But a few plays later, Fein and Cooper fumbled the exchange on a fourth-and-one at the 31 to end the drive.SK’s offense was led all season by senior running back Roger Cooper and Newell, but Bethel’s defense constantly plugged up holes, allowing Cooper only 87 yards on 21 carries and keeping Newell from going vertical on the ground. Bethel coach Eric Kurle said before the battle of unbeaten teams that keeping Newell from scrambling down the field was crucial to winning, and the Braves accomplished that goal.The Wolves had opportunities but dropped two interceptions that eventually led to two Bethel scores, and they were unable to recover three Bethel fumbles.Halfway in the fourth quarter and his team trailing 20-0, Sehmel had a clear interception that may have been returned for a touchdown. But the ball skipped through his hands and off his shoulder pads into the hands of Bethel’s Alex Lewis, which set up the Braves’ third touchdown and a 27-0 lead. “We had a lot of people not doing their jobs, not wrapping up on tackles, making mistakes,” Sehmel said “This is not the way I wanted to end my season. I don’t want to go home and put my gear away.”SK avoided the shutout when sophmore Ryan Cole ran 32 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown with one second remaining. Senior David Houk admitted the Wolves made mistakes, but he said they should have taken advantage of the Braves’ mistakes, too.“You can’t give a good football team that many opportunities,” Houk said. “It just seems like nothing went our way tonight.”"

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