SK revved, ready

On paper, this year’s South Kitsap High School football team looks a lot like past SK teams. But the makeup of each individual team has always had an identity of its own.

This year’s squad could turn out to be the most unique team yet under the helm of seventh-year coach D.J. Sigurdson. Only four of this year’s 11 starters on offense are returning starters, while the defense returns a slew of experienced players.

But Sigurdson said he’s very confident about his new mixed bag of players. For the first time in his tenure at SK, Sigurdson will have a committe of running backs sharing the carries.

Leading the way in the backfield will be seniors Pat Kelly and Jon Sheperd. Senior Shannon Haney, who took a year off last year, will also expect some carries at running back or fullback.

Senior Brent Nickerson and juniors Anthony Galloway and David Robinson will also be in the mix in the backfield.

Sigurdson said he sees it as an advantage because most of the running backs are key starters on the defense. Sharing the workload on offense will allow fresher legs for the two-way players, he said.

“We want to make sure we have a good defense first,” Sigurdson said. “We have enough good quality runners I don’t feel we’ll have a drop off on defense.”

Gone are the feature-type backs such as Victor Valle, Ryan Cole and Roger Cooper.

But Kelly and Sheperd bring experience after backing up Valle last year. The duo will also complement each other with two distinct running styles.

Kelly is the speedster who will slash his way for yards, while Sheperd is more of a power back whose strength will make him tougher to bring down.

Also a first for Sigurdson is the return of his top two quarterbacks — Josh Fullington and Tommy Patrick — from last year. It’s an advantage he’s overly pleased to have.

“I’ve never had both come back as a one and two,” he said. “We don’t lose anything no matter who’s in there.”

Fullington was the starter last year but both will share time at the position.

Fullington and Patrick will have their favorite target to throw to again this year in senior wide receiver Richard Fein.

With the graduation of Nick Anderson, the other receiver job is up for grabs between seniors Eric Peterson and Craig Senter.

How much time the quarterbacks have to throw is predicated on the offensive line. Veterans Clayton Hutchens and Steven Razey return to the line and will receive a big boost with the return of Gene Baily, who had to miss last seson because of an injury.

Seniors Robbie Thomas, Nick Hupka, and tight end Jake Boling bolster the line along with junior Brad Ossman. All will be pulling their weight on the defensive side as well.

The biggest area of experience will come at linebacker and the secondary.

SK brings back three of four starting linebackers. Senior Chris Anderson, a Division I recruit, will share the inside linebacking duties with Sheperd. Senior Anthony Augirre and Haney will man the outside.

Kelly and Senter will be back as the starting cornerbacks and Fein will be the strong safety.

Nickerson, also coming off an injury-plagued season, will be the starting free safety.

SK opens the season Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Snohomish for the lone non-conference game of the year.

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