Sports

Playoff streak ends

The outcome wasn’t what they had hoped for, but Saturday afternoon the South Kitsap Wolves showed exactly what they are made of.

Trailing 18-0 at halftime of their district playoff game against Mountain View, it would have been easy to forgive the Wolves if they just let this one slip away. Things just weren’t going their way on this day.

They could have let bad penalties, bad snaps, sick players and an overall flat outlook lead to a season-ending with a whimper. Instead, they showed the grit and character that had put SK into the Class 4A state playoffs for the previous 23 years.

But this time they came up on the short end of a 26-19 score at windy, chilly McKenzie Stadium in Vancouver, Wash.

The state’s longest consecutive playoff streak has come to an end. So has a season full of hope and promise.

“It was a streak, and sometimes those things end,” SK coach D.J. Sigurdson said. “I’m sorry it came under these guys’ watch and under mine. But it’s all right. This is a good group of kids and I’ll remember them for a long time.”

This game should be remembered for a long time in Port Orchard and not because of the snapped streak but for the way the Wolves responded to one of the worst halves of football in SK history.

“I think it just came down to letting them know that we were OK,” SK offensive coordinator Eric Canton said. “And go out and play. It was time to just let it all hang out. I mean, you don’t have time not to.

“So, if you want lay down and quit and go home, then we can have a nice miserable ride home,” Canton said. “The way they played in the second half, not one of them has a reason to hang their head. They played hard and they should be proud of the way they came out and played in the second half. I feel like we just ran out of time.”

The numbers don’t lie, and they were bad after two quarters of play. The Wolves had taken great field position and turned it into 48 total yards and three first downs. They had kept drives alive for the Thunder with stupid penalities and gave away points with a pair of bad snaps on punt attempts.

“I was proud of them, I was proud of the way they kept fighting,” Sigurdson said. “They had some decisions to make and they came out and played really hard in the second half. We didn’t do anything special or different. We just came out and made plays in the second half.”

The second half saw the Wolves actually look like the Wolves, picking up 223 yards of offense and scoring on three consecutive drives to take a 19-18 lead.

“Our kids have a tendency to, when we got a little lead, start slacking a little bit, and they definitely took advantage of it,” Mountain View coach Mark Woodward said. “Here we thought they were just going to try and sweep us to death with (tailback Shannon Haney), and that big No. 12 (SK quarterback Josh Fullington) is just a beast,” MV coach Mark Woodward said. “I was really, really impressed with the way he handled things and the balls he threw.”

Fullington was 0-4 in the first half but came up big in the second half, completing 12 of 17 passes for 125 yards. His last two passes were intercepted.

“I don’t know, it seems that what happened, happened,” Fullington said. “We all played our best. We just made some crucial mistakes and we just couldn’t recover.”

Haney, who missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with the flu, was effective but sluggish. He carried the ball 13 times for 87 yards but didn’t see much action in the fourth quarter.

“He was really sick,” Sigurdson said. “It gets you out of sync a little bit. Every team is going through those little things, guys injured or sick or out for various reasons. You just have to overcome those things.”

Senior Brent Nickerson got the call at tailback and gained 47 yards on 17 carries in his only offensive action of the year.

“It’s disappointing,” Nickerson said. “We wish we would have come in the first half and played like we did in the second half.

“It was just our mentality and what we needed to get down,” Nickerson said. “We knew we needed to go out and pound them, and that’s what we did in the second and it showed on the score board what we were capable of,” he said. “If we would have just done that earlier in the game, it would have been a different story.”

Having to switch tailbacks did not change the Wolves’ playing calling.

“To be honest, it didn’t change anything,” Canton said. “We felt that Shannon would still be able to do the things he’s been doing, but they’re a good defensive football team and they really flew to the ball.

“The thing I think we were surprised with the most was that we were having a hard time moving them (up front),” Canton said. “The second half, we just put our kids in a better situation in how we were blocking things and that helped, obviously.”

After jumping out front 19-18, the Thunder rolled back with a quick two-play scoring drive to go up 26-14 and then held on as the Wolves drove down to the MV 15-yard line but turned the ball over on downs.

South Kitsap got the ball back three more times but two of the drives ended with interceptions and the game’s final play saw Richard Fein desperately looking to throw downfield on a reverse before being stopped for a 10-yard gain.

“Maybe we’ll be the answer to a WIAA trivia question someday,” Woodward said of stapping the Wolves playoff streak. “I’ll tell you what, that team right there was pure class all the way.”

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