Wolves brace for battle as Tides roll in

"The game meant nothing in the standings, but it meant everything to the South Kitsap High School football team.The No. 8-ranked Wolves rolled into Snohomish and rallied for an 18-17 win against the state's No. 7 team last Friday.A win or a loss wouldn't have made a difference in the standings since it was a non-league game, but senior quarterback Travis Vetters said it could be the catalyst for the season.That win felt so great, Vetters said. Coming off the losss to Kamiak (at state last year), it boosted our confidence way up. It was a big test for us and a very good team.SK lost its season opener last year against Rogers but went on to win the rest of its regular season games.Sigurdson said this year's game was more important because Rogers didn't have a successful season, whereas Snohomish is a pre-season favorite to win the WesCo North Division.It was nice to come out and play against a solid team, where you know they're going to be disciplined, persistent and they're not going to roll over, Sigurdson said. The road doesn't get easier this Friday, when SK hosts Gig Harbor to open Narrows League Bridge Division play.The Tides come into the game fresh off a 42-13 thrashing of Peninsula in the Fish Bowl.Gig Harbor runs a wing-T offense, but new quarterback Tyler Kullman showed his strength through the air.He finished 8-12 for 245 yards and three touchdowns.Between running back Paul Turnbull and receiver Andy Willis, Gig Harbor will try to keep SK off-balanced.Gig Harbor coach Darren McKay said there's no question his team is better and stronger than last year.As far as preparing for SK and running back Ryan Cole, McKay said Gig Harbor must stay within the realm of its defense.We just have to try and slow him down, McKay said. We held him to 92 yards last year, the only time he rushed for less than 100 yards. But he's going to get his yards. We can't focus so much on one player. When we did that, their quarterback would scramble for big gains.McKay said the biggest key to playing SK is to stay away from trickery.If you try and come up with something tricky, kids become apprehensive, McKay said. You just need to go out and do what you do.SK did exactly what it needed to do against Snohomish.The SK secondary didn't get many looks in the air (except for a touchdown-saving deflection by Vetters), but stayed busy making tackles in the open field.Also showing improvement was the Wolves' linebacking corps.Junior Andy Sund had 10 tackles, sophomore Chris Anderson followed with nine, and junior Nick Anderson added eight tackles.Senior defensive end John Enbom showed his switch from linebacker to defensive end paid off.He had eight tackles, but his quarterback sack and tackle for a three-yard loss proved crucial in stifling Snohomish's drive late in the fourth quarter.Leading 18-17 with under six minutes remaining, Snohomish pushed the ball from its own 18-yard line to the SK 35-yard line.But Enbom penetrated the line and sacked quarterback John Knutsen for an 11-yard loss, putting Snohomish back to the 46-yard line.The Panthers gained 13 yards on the next play, but on the following play Enbom made a tackle for a loss of four yards and forced them to punt.SK went four and out on its next possession and gave Snohomish another opportunity to get into at least field goal range for its all-state kicker Derek Bennion, who can kick beyond 50 yards.A short punt by Vetters gave the Panthers excellent field position on the 32-yard line, but a false start pushed them back to the 37-yard line.Two consecutive incomplete passes led to a fourth down.Bennion took to the field to attempt a 53-yard field goal with 2:27 remaining in the game.Fortunately for the Wolves, Bennion's accurate kick fell three feet short.SK ran the clock down to 27 seconds before being forced to punt near the 10-yard line.Vetters said his coach's advice was simple.Just hang on to the ball and get it off, Vetters said. Coach told me to punt it as far as I can downfield and out of bounds.It didn't go out of bounds but the punt returner fumbled the ball. Though he recovered it at the SK 45 yard-line, Snohomish - without any timeouts - couldn't get the ball into field goal range. "

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