South all about Abes

At the top of the South Kitsap High School 2004 football schedule, Wolves’ fans will see an all too familiar opponent — Lincoln High School.

But this isn’t your father’s Lincoln High, not by a long shot.

“They are a very good football team,” Sigurdson said. “This is a big test for South Kitsap.”

With coach Dick Zatkovich at the helm, Lincoln is making people and opponents forget about the past and looking toward building on last year’s success.

The Wolves open their season Friday night at 8 p.m. in the Lincoln Bowl in Tacoma as part of a double-header. Henry Foss faces North Thurston at 5 p.m. in the opener.

This marks the first time since 1996 the two former rivals have faced off.

“(The coach) is very different from the Lincoln we’re used to,” Sigurdson said. “As far as in this community, people are going to hear that we are playing Lincoln go ‘Oh, Lincoln, OK, that’s an easy opener.’ But it’s different.”

Zatkovich came to Lincoln from Lakes High, where he built quite a reputation as a successful coach. Zatkovich guided Lakes to the 1997 Class 3A title with a 21-17 win over Ferndale.

“They have the same athletic ability they’ve always had,” Sigurdson said. “But now, they’ve got a guy that’s got them going in the right direction.”

Lincoln returns 10 starters from last year’s 9-3 quarterfinal team, five on offense and five on defense.

Ballard ended the Abes’ season 36-29 last year.

But the Abes’ biggest returnee is Roman Pula, a sophomore tailback who really opened some eyes last year by rushing for 213 yards and scoring three touchdowns in Lincoln’s 30-6 playoff win over Kentlake.

“He’s a very good football player,” Sigurdson said. “He’s the heart and soul of that team. I mean, they have good players everyplace, but he got 25 to 30 carries (a game) last year as a freshman, so I’m assuming he’ll get at least that this year.

“He runs really hard and he has good speed,” Sigurdson continued. “But more impressive is just how physical he is. As a ninth grader, he was breaking tackles and running through guys, so he’s a very good player.

The two schools traded film of games from last season and both enter this contest not really sure what to expect.

While the Abes will mirror South, both base out of the I-formation offensively, Lincoln uses a few more formations but likes to pound the ball. Defensively, they are aggressive and like to man-up against opponents’ wide receivers.

“We’re definitely going to concentrate on stopping the run,” Sigurdson said. “That’s what they do — they run the ball. But at the same time, you can’t say, ‘Llet’s just cram everybody in the gaps.’ We’re still going with the same concept, gap control and the same fundamentals.”

South counters the Lincoln running game with senior tailback Anthony Galloway, who’s going to be counted on heavily this year. Kyle Pease will get the start at quarterback for the Wolves.

“We know there are some things that we do out of our offense that if (the Abes) are playing really aggressive, we should be able to take advantage of a few things,” Sigurdson said. “But we’re going to try and get first downs — that’s really going to our emphasis. It’s game one so we’re going to make sure we cover the kicks ... take care of the ball when we are on offense. That’s what we are focusing on. It’s the first game, and we want to be fundamentally sound.”

South has moved its practice schedule from double-days to its regular school-in-session routine. The Wolves closed out double-days with a special teams scrum on Saturday.

“It’s a big game for us and it’s a big game for them,” Sigurdson said. “We need to make sure, however, that we focus on us.

“I think it’s going to be a huge game for us to hang on to the ball, stay on sides, tackle, be ready to play with a few aches and pains,” Sigurdson said. “That type of stuff is going to huge for us — to show the maturity that way and give ourselves every chance to win.”

Sigurdson said he is focusing on doing all the little things right first off and everything else comes second.

“It will take a very good effort on our part and it will take a very good effort on (Lincoln’s) part, too,” Sigurdson said. “It should be a good game.”

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