FOOTBALL | Wolves’ first practice overshadowed by schedule change

The biggest news out of South Kitsap’s first football practice did not come out of Wednesday night’s two and a half hour workout.

It came immediately afterward.

Second-year South coach Eric Canton told his players that the season-opener against Kentridge was rescheduled for Sept. 5 at French Field. Canton, who received the information via text during practice from his wife, LeAnne, was not sure why the game was moved from Sept. 6. South athletic director Ed Santos could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Canton was not pleased with the change.

“It costs you another day of practice,” he said, adding that he was not sure whether Kentridge was allowed to practice Tuesday. “The state should’ve allowed us to start practice (Tuesday) to get the same opportunity as everybody else.”

Outside of the scheduling issue, Canton seemed pleased with the practice. Last month, the Wolves took 111 players to Fort Warden State Park in Port Townsend. While the team had about a three-week layoff from those workouts, the players did not appear out of sync. Canton and his coaches seemed to focus more on execution — Canton chided at least one player for not being fundamentally sound — than technique.

“We had six practices up there at Fort Warden — two double days — and basically have hit the ground running,” Canton said. “It was really a great thing we did. You saw the benefit of that. We could’ve run been running any offensive play we wanted to run with the first-team guys (Wednesday).”

The reasons for that extend beyond the team’s time at Fort Warden and spring practices. Canton, who guided South to a 6-4 record last year, enters his second season as coach.

“I feel horrible for the seniors last year because there was so many things that were new to them and they had to learn so many things over,” he said. “With these guys, it was obvious that they paid attention and learned because they’re getting better and better.”

That does not mean everything will be the same for the 120 players who turned out, which is the most Canton said he could remember at the school. While that number was buoyed by the inclusion of freshmen, who are eligible to compete for the Wolves for the first time, Canton noted that they only account for about 25 percent of the total turnout.

“I’ve never seen that,” said Canton, who had 85 players last year. “We need more coaches.”

While the freshmen and sophomores adjust to the rigors of high school, many upperclassmen are adjusting to new position coaches. Two longtime assistants under former coach D.J. Sigurdson, Joey Dame (defensive backs) and Adam Kanouse (co-defensive coordinator, linebackers), elected not to return this season. Dame’s son, Cory (wide receivers), also did not come back.

Canton said he still needs to hire another full-time assistant, but he will assume Kanouse’s duties with the linebackers. Another former Sigurdson assistant, Marcus Logue, who also is the school’s baseball coach, has returned to guide the secondary. Canton also hired former North Kitsap standout Jared Prince, who later played baseball at Washington State University and then in the Texas Rangers’ organization, to coach quarterbacks.

Canton said he learned about Prince’s desire to become a teacher from an article in The Kitsap Sun after the Rangers released him in March. He immediately then asked a reporter to pass along his phone number to Prince.

“He got back with me and at first it didn’t look like it was going to happen,” Canton said. “We’re very fortunate.”

South returns to the practice field Thursday night and then has its first day with multiple practice sessions Friday.

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