Sports

Football schedule has SK opening up at Qwest Field

Coach D.J. Sigurdson and his South Kitsap football team will open the 2009 season against Kenniwick in the Emerald City Kickoff Classic at Qwest Field in Seattle. - Jesse Beals/Staff Photo
Coach D.J. Sigurdson and his South Kitsap football team will open the 2009 season against Kenniwick in the Emerald City Kickoff Classic at Qwest Field in Seattle.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/Staff Photo

South Kitsap’s football team is headed to the Emerald City Kickoff Classic for the second time in five seasons.

The Wolves, who finished 6-4 in 2008, open the season at noon Sept. 5 against Kennewick at Qwest Field.

“It will be an experience that’s unique to their entire high-school career,” South coach D.J. Sigurdson said. “There’s no other experience for them, whether it’s a playoff or state championship, to play in that venue.”

Sigurdson, whose team lost 35-33 in its previous game at Qwest in 2005 against Mercer Island, expressed interest through Narrows League officials about playing in the game again. He said the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association had Narrows League teams scheduled to play in the game in 2008-09. Central Kitsap lost 42-19 against Hawaii’s Punahou last year.

Unlike its league rival, South won’t open the season against a nationally ranked team. Kennewick, which plays in the Class 3A/4A Columbia Basin/Big Nine Athletic Conference, finished 2-8 last year. But the Lions also lost three games by seven points combined.

“Their win-loss record isn’t indicative of how good of a team they were,” said Sigurdson, adding that both programs already have traded game tape. “It was more indicative of how good of a league it was.”

South running back Robert Issa was an eighth-grader the last time the Wolves played in Seattle. Similar to many teammates, he’s been to Seattle Seahawks games inside the 67,000-seat stadium, but hasn’t played there.

“I’ve never played in a big game like that,” he said. “There’s going to be so many fans and scouts. It’s exciting.”

In addition to the Emerald City Kickoff Classic, South also plays a Saturday game (Oct. 17) at Stadium. It’s the first time since 2005 that the Wolves have two Saturday games.

The only other non-Friday game is the regular-season finale on Oct. 29 against Mount Tahoma.

It’s the second consecutive year South will play its final game on a Thursday in addition to playing just one nonleague game. With an 11-team league, the Wolves miss two Narrows League teams. They won’t play Foss or Wilson this season.

That means the league schedule might be a little weaker for South than last year. It trades those schools, which combined to finish 9-11 last season, for Mount Tahoma and Stadium. Those teams, which the Wolves missed in 2008, were a combined 5-15 a year ago.

The schedule won’t be easy to begin the year, though. After Kennewick, they play Gig Harbor, which has won five of the last six meetings between the schools, Sept. 11 at Roy Anderson Field.

“It’s OK to play them early when everyone is still healthy and the weather is still nice,” Sigurdson said. “It will be a fun, big game for us.”

South then plays its home opener Sept. 18 against Shelton, which went 0-10 last year. But the Wolves follow that game with a pair of teams that went to state in 2008. They travel to Olympia, which beat South 42-6 last season and has won 26 consecutive regular-seaon league games, Sept. 25, before returning home the following week against Central Kitsap. The Cougars advanced to the state semifinals a year ago.

“We’re playing what traditionally have been the powerhouses of the league early,” Sigurdson said.

Issa likes the breakdown of the schedule.

“We’re preparing for the hard teams early,” he said. “It will get us ready.”

Sigurdson said his team will prepare for the Qwest game and its early season games as normal. One notable difference might be a little more emphasis on the spread because Gig Harbor and Shelton both use that offense.

“We’re pretty confident in what we’re doing,” Sigurdson said.

South then plays games at Bellarmine Prep and Stadium before returning home for its final two games against Lincoln and Mount Tahoma. Mike Merrill, who was an assistant with Sigurdson on Ed Fisher’s staff in the early 1990s at South, was named the Abes’ coach during the offseason. He also has coached at Mount Rainier and Lake Washington.

Sigurdson, who last guided the Wolves to state in 2007, won’t make predictions, but likes the outlook for his team.

“The kids and coaches are excited,” he said. “We feel we have a good, experienced team.”

2009 South Kitsap Football Schedule

Sept. 5 Kennewick Qwest Field

Sept. 11 Gig Harbor Roy Anderson Field

Sept. 18 Shelton Joe Knowles Field

Sept. 25 Olympia Ingersoll Field

Oct. 2 Central Kitsap Joe Knowles Field

Oct. 9 Bellarmine Prep Bellarmine Prep

Oct. 17 Stadium Stadium Bowl

Oct. 23 Lincoln Joe Knowles Field

Oct. 29 Mount Tahoma Joe Knowles Field

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