Former SK stars getting a second chance at football
June 12, 2008 · Updated 1:56 PM
"What do you get when you cross an otter with an elk? An Orca.Well, sort of.Former South Kitsap High School football players Elkanah Montgomery and Arnie Otterback are back on the field, playing a sport they said they took for granted.Along with former South Kitsap teammate Erik Simonsen and 2000 SK graduate Mike Benjamin, Montgomery and Otterback are members of the newly formed West Sound Orcas, a semi-pro football team that plays in Bremerton. It was only three years ago that then-junior Montgomery and seniors Otterback and Simonsen were on SK's state runnerup team.Montgomery, a 5-foot-7, 180-pound running back who graduated in 1999, earned his ticket to Central Washington University. He was redshirted his freshman year, but Montgomery led himself down the wrong path.I made a couple of bad mistakes, Montgomery said. Toward the end of the winter quarter I got into a misconduct with alcohol. I talked to the Central coach about it and he told me to go to a junior college first and try and get back together.Otterback was a successful defensive end at SK, but poor grades kept him out of the college scene, along with poor weight management.Academics killed me, Otterback said. I just didn't hit the books. And I gained a lot of weight after high school. I was about 270 pounds, and one day I just didn't like what I saw in the mirror. So I really started to take fitness serious.Since graduating, Otterback has worked odd jobs, including a two-month stint at a cannery in Alaska.That grew me up fast, he said. Otterback, now a 5-foot-11, 230-pound linebacker for the Orcas, has a new appreciation for a sport he said he held in contempt while at SK.I really depended on the coaches too much, Otterback said. I don't have any regrets, though.He showed his newfound love for football last Friday against the Oregon Panthers. He had a half dozen sacks and was in on a lot of no-gain runs as the Orcas held the Panthers to a minus-50 yards on 26 carries.Montgomery joined the Orcas late and was forced to play defense in the team's first game.West Sound coach Larry Bell said it was a matter of having Elkanah learn the offense for another week before running with the ball.The first couple of weeks, I was frustrated because they put me on defense and things weren't working out, Montgomery said. I wasn't sure if I wanted to play. But now I see where I'm at and I found my home, and that's running the ball.Montgomery proved his worth as a running back, wracking up 100 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown against Oregon.Bremerton's Todd Lewis was the other featured back, scoring three touchdowns on 10 carries for 182 yards.What this semi-pro team has done for both Montgomery and Otterback is help them realize their dreams.I am not drinking anymore and not doing all that party stuff, Montgomery said. I'd be starting at Central right now if I didn't screw up. I want to go back to school and I want to play football. Getting an education, I know that comes first, because I can't play football the rest of my life.Otterback said he's not sure playing well for the Orcas will lead to anything bigger.But he plans on going back to school. And he's happy he can look in the mirror every day and be proud of what he sees."