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South Kitsap football: ‘We are who we are’
SK’s frustrating finish can’t dim positive feelings about where the program is headed.
It’s been more than a week since South Kitsap coach D.J. Sigurdson walked off the rain-soaked turf at Vancouver’s Kiggins Bowl.
That doesn’t mean the disappointment of losing 23-21 against Skyview in the preliminary-round football playoff has left him.
Instead of a first-round state playoff game tonight against Rogers, the Wolves are finished with a 6-4 record. It won’t match the high point of Sigurdson’s tenure — a second-place in the Class 4A state tournament his first year — or the low of a 4-6 record in 2004. But Sigurdson acknowledges it’s the most perplexing season in his career.
There was the 14-13 loss against Central Kitsap when Sigurdson eschewed his final timeout to run one more play from the Cougars’ 6-yard line with just 22 seconds left and the clock running.
The decision proved costly when Gordy Anderson’s pass fell incomplete and time ran out.
But the Wolves rebounded to win four of their next five games, including a back-and-forth contest against Foss that finally was settled when Sean Allison broke a 68-yard touchdown run with 56 seconds left to secure a 29-26 win.
South was 5-2 at that point with a home game against No. 2 Olympia. Bears coach Bill Beattie billed it as a playoff preview to his squad, but it never looked that way as Olympia won 42-6. It marked the 25th consecutive league win for Olympia and the largest margin of victory by a road team against South since North Kitsap’s 62-7 win in 2004.
“The Olympia game was a lackluster performance,” Sigurdson said. “We should’ve been excited to play and ready to go.”
The Wolves seemed to rebound the following week with a 27-point halftime lead, but they had to hang on for a 37-29 win at Lincoln. Then came the Skyview game that featured fumbles, interceptions and a failed two-point conversion.
It all adds up to South missing state for the fifth time in six years. And even though Sigurdson, who has an 89-36 record, passed Stener Kvinsland (84-47-5 from 1941-57) for second place on the school’s career wins list this year, it isn’t enough.
“We have higher goals,” Sigurdson said. “We want to achieve more as a staff.”
What that means is unclear. Sigurdson, who trails Ed Fisher (196-49 from 1974-96) on the school’s career win list, said he and his staff will evaluate the program during the offseason, but declined to give specifics other than he will return next season.
He was clear that doesn’t rest on the players.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Sigurdson said. “I don’t ever want them to think we weren’t happy with their effort. As a staff, we need to figure out how to reach a little bit higher.”
From a personnel standpoint, Sigurdson has perhaps his strongest core of wide receivers in recent memory. Leon La Deaux, who also stands out in basketball and track, returns for his senior season. He’s joined by Mike Alonzo and Isaiah Davis.
Couple that with the return of quarterback Gordy Anderson, who shared the position with senior Bryan Dorsey this season, and Sigurdson said he expects to throw the ball more in 2009 even though he said the Wolves will predominately remain a running team in their I-pro offense.
“We are who we are, but I think this year we showed we were more comfortable throwing the ball,” he said. “It helps the running game when the passing game can be efficient.”
After years of featuring one standout back such as Ryan Cole, Roger Cooper and Stephen Tucker, the position was shared by Sean Allison and Ryan Williams this season.
Both players are graduating, and Sigurdson expects a similar situation next fall. Both Zach Cruz and Robert Issa, who had carries this year, could be featured in the rotation.
The defense, which allowed 18.3 points per game, sustains heavy losses at linebacker with the graduations of Sean Allison, T.J. Rhodes and Ryan Williams, but Sigurdson noted that the position remained solid despite losing starters Josh Burlingame and Chad Tester after the 2007 season.
South also graduates Sean Korf, Jared Moore and Brady Zurn in the secondary, but Alonzo and La Deaux return.
And Sigurdson is excited about some upcoming players on the defensive line, including Nick Boss, who started at tackle this year as a junior, and 6-foot-1 end Austin Cook.
“We’re going to be OK,” Sigurdson said. “We have some good young kids. It would be different if we had 38 seniors like Olympia.”