SK renews rivalry with Snohomish

"They weren't even a glimmer in their parents' eyes last time South Kitsap High School football players suffered a loss to the Snohomish Panthers.Since a 19-15 loss in 1978 to Snohomish, which went on to win the state title, SK is 7-0 against Snohomish.SK and Snohomish enjoyed a six-year rivalry that started in 1985.The games were always billed as No.1 versus No.2 but the Wolves always got the best of them.In those six games SK outscored the Panthers 157.The rivalry ended after the 1990 season, but the two teams faced off in the first round of the state playoffs in 1996.Again SK came out on top.But one cannot slight the Panthers' program. Snohomish trails only South Kitsap in playoff appearances.Five years later the two teams are ready to buck helmets Friday night in Snohomish in what is expected to be a capacity crowd.South Kitsap fans will be able return the favor next year when Snohomish comes into town.Panthers coach Mark Perry knows all too well about South Kitsap.Now entering his 18th season as a Snohomish coach--his seventh as head coach--Perry said he remembers the past all too well.However, Perry said the only thing he's concentrating on is this season.Though he would like nothing better than to earn a win against SK at home, Perry said the first game against a quality opponent is a great opportunity to see which of his players will step it up on the field.It's a game where I can see who can play together, Perry said. I can see who is going to step up and make some plays. Win or lose, after this game the season starts over.Perry's biggest challenge is putting together a team that only a year ago finished the regular season undefeated and barely lost to Kentwood in the opening round of the playoffs.Losing a plethora of seniors is something Perry said he has to deal with every year.We're used to it, he said. We are always a senior dominant team year in and year out. The hardest thing is waiting for that somebody, and there always is, to step it up.Snohomish returns only one all-WesCo conference player in senior nose tackle Matt Sigurdson (no relation to SK coach D.J. Sigurdson).Perry also spoke highly of his returning kicker Derek Bennion.I think he'll be an all-state kicker this year, Perry said. He kicked a 52-yard field goal in our scrimmage and he just missed a 60-yarder. I think he'll be a great advantage to have on our team.Calling the signals this year is senior quarterback John Knutson.Perry said Knutson is not only athletic, but runs the offense well.The running game for the Panthers and their wing-T offense will be senior fullback Todd Olsen and junior halfback Jake Darling.Perry said he's confident in his offensive and defensive lines, but said the jury is out on his linebackers.We've got a new crop of linebackers, Perry said. Adam Bazant will lead that group but we've got about six that are real close. I'll get them in the game and see who's going to make the plays.D.J. Sigurdson said he expects the game to be hard fought on both sides of the ball.As far as basic concepts I think you can draw a lot of parallels between our programs, Sigurdson said. (Snohomish) always plays hard, they're always aggressive, and they always play with emotion. They never play flat.SK teams are used to playing in hostile territory, but Snohomish fans are known for being the 12th player on the field.Last year Snohomish had 6,500 fans show up for the playoff game against Kentwood.Though that number isn't expected, Perry said members of the Snohomish community love their football.They're awesome, Perry said. This is definitely a football town. "

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