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FOOTBALL | South Kitsap stifles Kentridge
KENT — South Kitsap coach Eric Canton often talked about his team’s youth during the offseason.
But the Wolves looked nothing like an inexperienced squad during Thursday night’s season-opening 40-0 nonleague win against Kentridge at French Field.
It marked the sixth straight year they have won to start the season.
Even with South’s extensive football lineage, it is difficult to imagine a more dominant defensive performance than the one against the Chargers. Consider that the Wolves forced five fumbles and held Kentridge to -5 rushing yards. The Chargers had just 42 yards of total offense.
“I don’t care who you’re playing,” Canton said. “That’s impressive.”
One unit in particular stood out to him.
“I thought our defensive line raised a lot of havoc,” said Canton, who noted they only used two defensive schemes because of the team’s inexperience. “We went with smaller, quick guys and they were just making life miserable.”
Canton had so much confidence in his team that on the first series of the game — from South’s own 25-yard line — he elected to go for it on fourth-and-1. Junior running back Marshaud DeWalt was stopped for no gain.
“We would not have gone for it if I didn’t feel like we could [be successful],” Canton said. “We need to challenge these guys because they’re young.”
The result did not matter.
Kentridge moved the ball down to the Wolves’ 14 after gaining a first down, but turned the ball over to South on a fumble. Six plays later, the Wolves capitalized on the miscue when junior quarterback Cooper Canton found 6-foot-1 classmate Brayden Maynard, who wrestled the ball away from a defensive back and broke for a 30-yard touchdown.
“I trusted my receiver to go get it,” said Canton, who completed 9 of 10 passes during the first half. “I might have underthrown it a bit. It was a great catch.”
The Wolves never slowed down as they added three more touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 26-0 lead at the intermission. After DeWalt finished an 11-play drive with a 29-yard touchdown to senior wide receiver Marcus Burns, South got the ball right back on a fumble recovery by Mason Bradley at the Chargers’ 31. Five plays later, DeWalt scored on a 3-yard run. The 5-5, 234-pound DeWalt then finished off the Wolves’ next drive on a 2-yard run that was set up by a 51-yard completion from Canton to Dylan Garcia.
South’s first drive of the second half stalled out similar to the one that opened the game. But it once again made little difference as the younger Canton forged a plan. He told his teammates that he would punt the ball directly at an unsuspecting player and be prepared to recover a fumble.
And that is what transpired.
On the ensuing play, Canton connected with senior Logan Knowles for a 20-yard touchdown to extend the Wolves’ lead to 33-0. Canton, who made his first start, completed 10 of 13 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns.
“I got a little experience before, but that was my first start so I definitely was nervous,” said Canton, who credited the offensive line for consistently giving him time in the pocket. “But I was definitely really excited at the same time.”
The elder Canton did not see any visible emotion from his son.
“It was typical Cooper,” he said. “Everything’s just flat-lined. He’s always under control and doesn’t panic. He’s accurate. He makes great decisions.”
Among Canton’s receivers, Knowles had a team-high four receptions. Six different players caught balls for South.
“We’re six deep at wide receiver easily,” Canton said. “I trust all of my guys to go make a play.”
He was not the only offensive player who put up impressive statistics for the Wolves. Senior running back Terro Bell, who returned to South after spending last season at Chiawana High School in Pasco, had a game-high 128 yards on 13 carries. His younger brother, Corey, a sophomore, scored the game’s final touchdown on a 10-yard run late in the third quarter.
At that point, the Wolves made mass substitutions on both sides of the ball as the 40-point advantage started the running clock, per Washington Interscholastic Activities Association rules.
The result left Canton mostly happy. But as South prepares for its home opener at 7 p.m. Friday against Newport, he wants to see more precision from his team. During one third-quarter drive, the Wolves were penalized on four consecutive plays.
“That’s when we need to be crisp,” Canton said. “We’ve got them on the ropes. Instead of continuing what we’re doing, we get complacent.”
And maybe showed a little inexperience in an otherwise dominant performance.
South Kitsap 40, at Kentridge 0
South Kitsap 6 20 14 0 - 40
Kentridge 0 0 0 0 - 0
SK-Brayden Maynard 30 pass from Cooper Canton (kick failed)
SK-Marcus Burns 29 pass from Canton (pass failed)
SK-Marshaud DeWalt 3 run (pass failed)
SK-DeWalt 2 run (DeWalt run)
SK-Logan Knowles 20 pass from Canton (Ian Van Gesen kick)
SK-Corey Bell 10 run (Van Gesen kick)
Passing-Canton (SK) 10-13-0-210, Michael Fitch (SK) 1-1-0-9, Jordan Lawson (K) 7-15-0-47.
Rushing-C. Bell (SK) 9-32, DeWalt (SK) 8-52, Terro Bell (SK) 13-128, Li’i Kalima (SK) 2-2, Angelo Vigil (SK) 4-2, Fitch (SK) 1-3, Jonah Davis (SK) 2-4, Roderick Ashford (K) 12-2, Brian Brown (K) 2--8, Lawson (K) 2--4, Braiden Beckman (K) 2-9, Marlon Palmer (K) 1--4.
Passing-Knowles (SK) 4-44, Ramon Marin (SK) 1-22, Maynard (SK) 1-30, Dylan Garcia (SK) 2-81, Burns (SK) 1-29, Tanner Paulson (SK) 1-9, Zach Seibel (K) 1-3, Beckman (K) 2-22, Marlon Palmer (K) 1-11, Dalton Bond (K) 1-8, Ashford (K) 1-0, Braiden Poffenroth (K) 1-3.