FOOTBALL | Family at center of DeWalt’s success

South Kitsap senior Marshaud DeWalt added 22 pounds of muscle to his 5-foot-5 frame during the offseason. He now weighs 256 pounds. - File Photo
South Kitsap senior Marshaud DeWalt added 22 pounds of muscle to his 5-foot-5 frame during the offseason. He now weighs 256 pounds.
— image credit: File Photo

South Kitsap’s Marshaud DeWalt does not gain his inspiration by gazing at the murals that document the program’s rich tradition at the school.

He channels that energy with a glance into his locker.

Inside hangs a maroon and white No. 23 jersey. That is in honor of his cousin, Malachi DeWalt II, who drowned at age 6 in July 2008 in Horseshoe Lake.

“I would always go over there to play street football or games with him,” DeWalt said. “We would always do something fun.

“He’s the reason why I wear 23. I took that to honor him. I just play for him.”

But before DeWalt pulls the uniform from his locker, he often is found just a few hundred steps down the hallway striving to carry on his aunt’s tradition. He said Angela DeWalt, who succumbed to cancer on Jan. 13 at age 50, was an accomplished bodybuilder. The younger DeWalt has used that as inspiration to add 22 pounds of muscle to his 5-foot-5 frame. He now is 256 pounds.

During offseason workouts, DeWalt set a school record for the power clean.

South Kitsap coach Eric Canton said he produced a combined 1,400 pounds on three lifts.

“It’s crazy,” Canton said.

Consider it the latest area of growth for DeWalt. Talent never was an issue. His mother, Antoinette, ran track for the Wolves. DeWalt’s uncle, Malachi, who has a similar build to his nephew, is one of the leading rushers in Kitsap County history. As a senior at Olympic in 1994, he finished with 1,558 rushing yards.

Despite the presence of seniors Bryce Broome and Adam Gascoyne — both of whom went on to sign with college programs — in the backfield in 2012, DeWalt earned his way into the rotation. There was just one problem with that: a penchant for fumbling. Perhaps no play better exhibited why DeWalt received carries — and what prevented him from receiving more — than South’s 33-27 victory Sept. 7, 2012, at Newport. On one play, DeWalt appeared poised to give the Wolves a two-touchdown lead in the second half on a 52-yard run before he lost a fumble at the Knights’ 10-yard line.

“After his sophomore season, he was actually carrying a football around school during basketball and baseball season,” Canton said. “That’s how much he took it to heart to get that fixed.”

That was not an issue last season as Canton can only recall DeWalt fumbling “once or twice.” DeWalt finished with 591 yards on 85 carries.

“No fumbles,” DeWalt said. “This year that’s the goal.”

DeWalt figures to receive more carries this year after sharing time last season with brothers Terro and Corey Bell. The former exhausted his eligibility last year, while the younger Bell returned to play at Chiawana in Pasco.

Not that DeWalt has a problem with competition. He attended camp in June at Eastern Washington University and earned MVP honors among running backs. DeWalt is hopeful that performance, along with his work on the gridiron with the Wolves, will garner him a college scholarship. He said the lack of interest he has received from schools will provide motivation for him on the field — and in the classroom.

“It’s not going so hot, but I’m getting myself out there,” DeWalt said. “I’ve got to get my grades right. That will come.”

Canton is counting on DeWalt to evolve as a leader, as well. DeWalt was selected by his teammates to serve as a captain this season.

“That’s an area of growth for him,” Canton said. “He needs to work on his leadership a little bit more. It’s not bad, but there are certain things he just needs to be aware that other kids are watching.

“He has a tendency sometimes not to go full speed on certain plays. There are times that he’s going to be a decoy ... and it’s as important that he goes full speed when he has the ball as when he doesn’t.”

If he needs any motivation, DeWalt expects to find it from a familiar source.

“My uncle is always on my butt,” he said, referring to Malachi. “He’ll be in the stands yelling at me about something and I’m the only one that can hear him. I know his voice.”

Malachi DeWalt, who also played at Walla Walla Community College and with the semi-pro West Sound Saints, said he and his brother, Malcolm, a 1987 South graduate, aim to serve as role models for their nephew.

“I just try and keep him out of trouble and keep his motivation up,” he said, adding that he tries to point out nuances of the running game to benefit his nephew. “I try and keep him in the sports part of that.”

DeWalt heeds that advice. He plans to participate in three sports this season, which means he will wrestle for the first time this winter and then join the Wolves’ Class 4A state runner-up baseball team in the spring. Last year, DeWalt was on the school’s junior-varsity baseball squad.

Sports never are too far from DeWalt’s mind. He hopes to study business in college with an eye toward owning a sports business specializing in “embroidery, nice shirts and socks.”

But first, DeWalt said he is working to be a leader after the Wolves finished with a 4-6 record last year, which marked just the program’s third losing record since 1977.

“We’ve totally flushed last year’s stuff,” DeWalt said. “It was a fluke of a year. We totally had a team — we just couldn’t put it together.”

DeWalt and his teammates can begin to prove that Sept. 5 against rival Central Kitsap at Silverdale Stadium.

“The first game is always the best,” DeWalt said. “I’m ready.”

A family legacy awaits.

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