There is little ingenuity involved with it.
South Kitsap’s opponents know they can exploit the Wolves’ undersized defense through the run and Bellarmine Prep became the latest team to use that blueprint en route to a 31-0 win in a Class 4A Narrows League game Friday at Joe Knowles Stadium.
The Lions (4-0 overall, 2-0 league) did not use any exotic schemes or even display much in the way of offensive diversity. Two players, running back Nathan Gotterman and quarterback Lou Millie, were the only ones to carry the ball for Bellarmine until late in the game. And Millie, a converted running back who still is listed as one on the roster, only attempted seven passes.
It did not matter.
Gotterman, who eclipsed 100 yards in the first half, finished with 188 and two touchdowns on 30 carries. Millie also had 113 yards on 19 carries.
“I don’t know,” said South coach Eric Canton, whose team also struggled to contain the run in losses against Newport and at Gig Harbor. “I’m at a loss. It’s the same thing over and over again, so it’s on me.”
The Lions’ rushing prowess helped them maintain a sizeable time-of-possession advantage and limited South’s opportunities. But Bellarmine showed it could score in other ways, as well. After stopping senior running back Terro Bell on fourth-and-1, the Lions regained possession on the Wolves’ 44-yard line. On the ensuing play, Millie found wide receiver Drew Griffin for a touchdown.
Bellarmine then extended its lead to 10-0 in the second quarter on a 32-yard field goal by Matthew Philichi with 8:08 minutes remaining.
South (1-3, 0-2) followed with its best drive of the game. The Wolves converted consecutive third downs when junior quarterback Cooper Canton found senior Logan Knowles for a 32-yard completion and senior Marcus Burk later broke a 22-yard run. Those plays eventually helped them reach the Lions’ 6, but Canton’s third-down pass fell incomplete and his completion on the next play to junior wide receiver Brayden Maynard only went 4 yards.
That was as close as Bellarmine, which has outscored league opponents 72-0 this season, came to allowing points. South did not advance the ball past its own 44 during the second half as it was held scoreless for the first time since a 21-0 loss in 2004 against Gig Harbor. The Wolves had scored in their last 88 games.
“They’re extremely well-coached,” said Canton, when asked about the Lions’ success. “They do all of the little things right. They block well, tackle well and don’t make mistakes.”
Meanwhile, Gotterman rushed for 5- and 4-yard touchdowns and junior Jamal Ervin capitalized on a late Canton interception with a late 1-yard scoring run.
“He’s a small guy who moves really well,” said South junior linebacker Ramon Marin, who had a sack and two tackles-for-loss. “He finds his holes really easily.”
South, which plays at 3 p.m. Saturday against Olympia at Ingersoll Stadium, might need to win its final four league games to reach the playoffs. Eric Canton confirmed that 4A Narrows only will receive three playoff berths this season. The league had four playoff berths a year ago.
“It’s a gauntlet,” Canton said. “Our inexperience would be so much better if our schedule were flipped. But they put it on the schedule so we’ve got to go play.”
The third-place team in 2012, Olympia, finished with a 4-2 league record. South junior running back Marshaud DeWalt said his teammates are aware of the predicament they face.
“We can’t lose any more games or else our playoff chances are over,” he said. “We have to play 100 percent our best in everything.”
If the Wolves need further incentive, DeWalt said they remember last year’s 15-14 loss against the Bears where they allowed a fourth-quarter touchdown and two-point conversion.
“We want revenge as much as we can,” he said. “We’re coming.”
Bellarmine Prep 31, at South Kitsap 0
Bellarmine Prep 7 3 7 14 - 31
South Kitsap 0 0 0 0 - 0
BP-Drew Griffin 44 pass from Lou Millie (Matthew Philichi kick)
BP-Philichi 32 FG
BP- Nathan Gotterman 5 run (Philichi kick)
BP- Gotterman 4 run (Philichi kick)
BP-Jamal Ervin 1 run (Philichi kick)
Passing-Millie (BP) 4-7-0-67, Cooper Canton (SK) 8-20-2-82.
Rushing-Millie (BP) 19-113, Gotterman (BP) 30-188, Jamal Ervin (BP) 3-14, Terro Bell (SK) 10-45, Corey Bell (SK) 2--3, Marshaud DeWalt (SK) 4-7, Angelo Vigil (SK) 4-11, Marcus Burk (SK) 1-22, Ramon Marin (SK) 1-1, Canton (SK) 2--12.
Receiving-Drew Griffin (BP) 2-49, Matt Ogard (BP) 1-3, Garrett McKay (BP) 1-15, Brayden Maynard (SK) 4-24, Logan Knowles (SK) 1-32, Dylan Garcia (SK) 3-26.