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Productive offense, 'opportunistic' defense propel SK
Leon La Deaux follows the recruiting scene.
The South Kitsap senior knew he would match up against Gig Harbor's Austin Seferian-Jenkins on offense and defense in Friday's rivalry game at Roy Anderson Field.
The 6-foot-7 tight end holds offers from national powers Florida and Oklahoma in addition to every Pac-10 program except USC.
And with a strong performance against Seferian-Jenkins on both sides of the ball, La Deaux hopes to receive some attention of his own.
"I know there's scouts around here," he said. "When you have the chance on a big stage against a big-time player, you have to play your best game."
Consider that accomplished as La Deaux had perhaps his best game as the Wolves captured a 28-21 win that gave them their first win against the Tides in Purdy since 2002.
"I feel amazing," La Deaux said. "It's good to beat Gig Harbor again. It's a big win in the beginning of the season."
It looked like it might not be that close in the first half. After a scoreless first quarter, senior quarterback Gordy Anderson came out throwing in the second period. During a six-play, 65-yard drive, Anderson threw five times culminating with a 16-yard play-action pass to senior running back Chris Nenninger.
The Wolves (2-0 overall, 1-0 league) then got the ball back almost immediately. Troy Castle, who lines up at quarterback and wide receiver for the Tides, lost a fumble at his own 33-yard line. South recovered and extended its lead to 14-0 five plays later when junior running back Michael Neiner broke a 22-yard touchdown run.
That prosperity wouldn't last long. While the Wolves controlled the first six minutes of the second quarter, Gig Harbor owned the rest of the half. Senior quarterback Barrett Schmidtke, a transfer from Class 1A Life Christian Academy in Tacoma, found Castle for a 20-yard completion and again for a 46-yard touchdown to cut the Tides' deficit to 14-7.
Gig Harbor (0-2, 0-2) tied the game, 14-all, with 1:29 left in the first half. Schmidtke found Seferian-Jenkins, a junior, for a 24-yard touchdown pass to cap a six-play drive.
The Tides kept that momentum through the rest of the half even as South seemed destined to reclaim the lead. With all three timeouts available entering the drive, the Wolves were able to stop the clock when necessary and drove down to the Gig Harbor 18 when Anderson connected with junior wide receiver Isaiah Davis on a 36-yard pass.
South used its final timeout with 5.7 seconds left, but Davis' 35-yard field goal sailed right of the goalpost.
For the second consecutive week, the Wolves didn't lead at halftime. They were trailing by one point 24 minutes into their Sept. 5 nonleague opener against Kennewick at Qwest Field, but won 35-14.
"We talked about overcoming adversity," South coach D.J. Sigurdson said. "I'm extremely proud of the way the kids kept fighting all night long."
Anderson said he was confident the secondary, which allowed 172 passing yards in the first half, would recover after halftime.
"All they were doing was throwing it deep," he said. "They weren't running on us."
There weren't many issues with South's defensive front. The Tides were limited to 3.4 yards per carry, including the first play of the second half when Schmidtke faked a handoff only to have a defender knock the football loose. Senior defensive end Gig Pickard recovered the fumble.
"I thought they did an excellent job of creating plays for us," Sigurdson said. "They really were opportunistic."
One play later, Anderson found La Deaux, who beat Seferian-Jenkins for a 43-yard touchdown pass to put the Wolves ahead 21-14. La Deaux finished with a career-high 188 yards and two touchdowns on eight receptions.
"Leon can burn him," said Anderson, who completed 15 of 20 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. "And we can take advantage of that."
But it wasn't just the offense that was explosive. The Tides advanced to South's 30 and 28 on consecutive drives and didn't score. Their first drive was halted by a fourth-down stop, while the latter one ended when Schmidtke was intercepted by Davis. Gig Harbor committed four turnovers during the game, while the Wolves had none.
"More than anything, we've got to start taking care of the football," said Gig Harbor coach Darren McKay, adding that his team has nine turnovers in just two games after allowing seven total last year. "Otherwise you're always going to be in a hole."
In addition to the Tides' low rushing production, South sacked Schmidtke five times. The final one came on fourth down early in the final quarter when linebacker Robert Issa took him down.
The Wolves used the opportunity to score quickly again. Just three plays into the drive, La Deaux ran past Seferian-Jenkins and went untouched into the end zone on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Anderson. That gave South a 28-14 lead with 9:57 left.
But beating Gig Harbor rarely comes easily for the Wolves. South had lost five of the last six contests between the school entering the game. The lone win in the series was a 7-0 victory in a 2007 downpour at Joe Knowles Field that featured little more than running plays.
And the Tides kept it interesting by responding with an 11-play drive that culminated with a 2-yard touchdown on a keeper by Schmidtke with 6:13 remaining.
But after forcing the Wolves to punt, Schmidtke drove down to South's 46 before he was intercepted by Issa on third down. He completed 11 of 24 passes with a pair of touchdowns and interceptions.
"He has nice touch on the football," McKay said. "But he's still adjusting to the speed of 4A."
The Wolves never gave Gig Harbor another opportunity, and are off to their best start since 2002, when they won their first nine games. South plays its home opener at 7 p.m. Friday against Shelton, which is 1-1 after going winless last year.
"They're a different team," La Deaux said. "They already clobbered Mount Tahoma. We will not take that one for granted."
South Kitsap 28, at Gig Harbor 21
South Kitsap 0 14 7 7 — 28
Gig Harbor 0 14 0 7 — 21
SK-Chris Nenninger 16 pass from Gordy Anderson (Isaiah Davis kick)
SK-Michael Neiner 22 run (Davis kick)
GH-Troy Castle 46 pass from Barrett Schmidtke (Korey Durkee kick)
GH-Austin Seferian-Jenkins 23 pass from Barrett Schmidtke (Durkee kick)
SK-Leon La Deaux 43 pass from Anderson (Davis kick)
SK-La Deaux 50 pass from Anderson (Davis kick)
GH-Schmidtke 2 run (Durkee kick)