Wolves going back to basics

South Kitsap coach D.J. Sigurdson knows what works, and for the 2004 high school football season, he’s returning to the past.

In a sense.

“We’re kind of going back to basics,” Sigurdson said of the upcoming season. “We’re going to try and do less but do it better.”

That means a return to what took the program to 23 consecutive playoff appearances from 1980-2002. A return to power football, ball control and tough defense.

A return to Wolves’ football.

Not that South ever really got away from that philosophy.

“I think we adjusted, a little bit in the past couple of years, to the number of skilled players we had,” Sigurdson said. “We kind of wanted to get more people involved in what we were doing offensively. We have a little bit different team now.”

Everyone associated with South knows full well the streak is over. Sigurdson has moved on he hopes his team has too as they prepare to open the 2004 South Kitsap High School football season Sept. 3 at Lincoln High in Tacoma.

“I haven’t emphasized it at all,” Sigurdson said of South’s state-record of 23 consecutive years in the playoffs that came to a sudden and disappointing end last season.

“I’ve done it by design,” he said, “and I honestly don’t know if it’s a mistake or the right thing to do. I don’t, it’s just what I did.”

The Wolves dropped their final two games of the season last year, including a 26-19 loss to Mountain View that ended their season one game short of the playoffs. The coaches, players and fans have had to deal with it throughout the offseason.

But instead of dwelling on it, Sigurdson and his team have chosen to look ahead, and the future is not near as dark as some may have made it out to be.

“This is the 2004 season. That was the 2003 season,” Sigurdson said. “I don’t think the kids would say that this is the same as last year.”

Sure, the senior-laden team that went 6-3 a season ago is gone. And this year’s version is young and inexperienced but they are also talented and eager to do what it takes to make a run at the playoffs.

That in itself has optimism running high in the South camp.

“They don’t really have an idea of what it is to be going out and playing at that level where you’re going to be getting everyone’s best shot,” Sigurdson said. “They know where we are and that teams really want to beat us. But I don’t think they really understand what it means on the field until they actually get out there and have to go through it.

“But on the other side, they’re not quite sure what to expect, but they are doing themselves a lot of justice by the way they are practicing,” Sigurdson said. “We (as coaches) have been really impressed with the intensity in practice. They’re not standing around looking at each other like, ‘What do we do?’ They’re just picking up the ball and running with it.”

Expect a lot of that this year — the running part.

Sigurdson and offensive coordinator Eric Canton have said the team will return to the basics, so to speak. In Wolf-speak, that means running the ball and controlling the clock.

A lot of that starts and begins with an offensive line that must play well if the Wolves are to succeed this year.

“We’re counting on the offensive line,” Sigurdson said. “Especially the seniors. We’re counting on them for their leadership, for their intensity.”

That line will be built around seniors Brad Ossman (6-0, 230), Kevin Krause (5-9, 187), and Vincent Yaptinchay (6-5, 206) along with juniors Kyle Saltsgaver (6-4, 220) and Tony Larson (5-11, 167).

“We’re counting on those guys,” Sigurdson said. “We’re relying on those guys heavily to carry the load.”

Senior tailback Anthony Galloway will be the one who benefits most from the play up front. Galloway (5-5, 158) will be the featured back this year but will share time with senior David Robinson (6-0, 181) and sophomore Michael Pulkrabek (5-4, 127).

“We have several kids that will run hard,” Sigurdson said. “I feel comfortable that if the offensive line does its job, we have several kids that can get the ball through there.”

The Wolves will also be green at quarterback as juniors Kyle Pease and David Hammrich will share time early in the season. Pease (5-7, 149) gets the starting nod while Hammrich (5-11, 151) will see plenty of playing time.

South will also be deep but young at receiver, with Dylan Pierce (5-11, 181) leading a group that includes Jason Read, Chris Hogan, Bruce Fernie, Cory Dame and David Parker.

Senior captain Jeff Coulon (5-9, 182) will anchor the fullback position along with Jon Stryker.

Defense has always been the strength of the Wolves and expect that to be no different this year.

“We have our most experience on the line of scrimmage,” Sigurdson said. “At least those kids will be the most battle tested.”

Saltgaver and Dan Tajalle (5-6, 271) will anchor the defensive line along with Ossman and Yaptinchay while Coulon, Orry Perez and Tony Larson will anchor the linebackers. Pierce and Galloway will patrol behind the secondary along with Jason Read and Hammrich.

“We’re going to attack the ball, play hard and tackle,” Sigurdson said. “And get ready to go again.”

Special teams will be solid Sigurdson said with Hammrich kicking PATs and field goals and Saltsgaver handling the kickoff duties. Galloway and Pierce will return kicks and punts.

But the bottom line isn’t wins and losses or a return to the playoffs. Sigurdson just wants to see improvement.

“I want us to continuously improve each week,” Sigurdson said. “That would be successful to me, if we got better each week. I want to be able to see our progress over the season. If we continuously improve each week, I’ll consider that a success.”

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