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Wolves evoke shades of the past with blowout of Shelton
The old wooden signs rested against a chain-link fence enclosing the end zone.
Each of the 23 details an accomplishment of an era when South Kitsap featured one of the state’s most dominant football programs. South reached state every year from 1980 to 2002.
But Friday’s home opener at Joe Knowles Field was more than viewing relics from the past. It was a connection to the present.
The Wolves used a dominant running attack featured often during their glory years to overwhelm Shelton 55-13 and improve their record to 3-0. It is the school's best start since winning its first nine games in ’02.
“Our kids played well, played hard,” said SK coach D.J. Sigurdson. “I was proud of them for coming out with good enthusiasm, good energy, and the effort was there.”
South (3-0 overall, 2-0 league) now goes from playing the Highclimbers, who were winless last year, to Olympia. The Bears have won 28 consecutive regular-season games in the Narrows since 2004 after beating Wilson 34-3 on Friday.
Coincidentally, the two teams were ranked side by side in the last state Class 4A Associated Press poll. Olympia was ninth, followed by the Wolves. They play at 7 p.m. Friday at Olympia’s Ingersoll Stadium.
“We got a very big game and a very big week,” Sigurdson said.
The Wolves played arguably their worst game last season in their home finale against the Bears with a 42-6 loss.
“We didn’t show up at all last year,” Sigurdson said. “It was not a good game.”
Junior wide receiver Isaiah Davis is confident at his team’s prospects heading into next week.
“We’ll be ready,” he said.
Sigurdson urged his players during practice throughout the week to avoid a letdown against the Highclimbers. South won last year’s game, 35-0 at Highclimber Stadium, but he was not impressed with his team’s performance during that contest.
There was no repeat as the Wolves scored on their first three possessions — all on running plays. Senior Zach Cruz opened with a 1-yard score, while junior Michael Neiner added the next two on 19- and 21-yard carries. Both players finished with a team-high 78 rushing yards.
With his team ahead 21-0 entering its fourth possession, Sigurdson decided to insert some of the backups. But that drive lasted just one play as junior quarterback Tanner Romo fumbled the snap that was recovered by Shelton linebacker Joe Strand at South’s 44-yard line. Despite that, Sigurdson was happy to get some of his younger players experience.
“We got everybody in a bunch,” he said. “We suited up 49 and I believe everybody got in there at some point.”
The Highclimbers (1-2, 1-2) ended the Wolves’ hopes of a shutout for the second straight year after the turnover when Taylor Gettle scored on a 3-yard run to cut their deficit 21-7 with 4:12 minutes left in the first half.
But Davis was not about to let Shelton build any momentum. He returned the kickoff 66 yards to the Shelton 4, but lost 25 of those on an illegal-block penalty. Despite that, the Wolves needed just three plays to respond when senior Robert Issa scored on a 7-yard run.
After the defense forced the Highclimbers into a three-and-out, South received the ball with just 40 seconds left in the half. But it didn’t matter as senior quarterback Gordy Anderson found Davis down the middle. He ran untouched into the end zone for a 66-yard touchdown that gave the Wolves a 35-7 halftime lead.
“The offensive line gave Gordy time and he threw a great pass,” Davis said.
Anderson completed just 4 of 11 passes, but added a second touchdown in the third quarter when he connected with Davis on a 39-yard pass.
Shelton had its longest drive of the game on the ensuing possession. The Highclimbers completed an eight-play, 76-yard series when senior George Roberts scored on a 1-yard run. He finished with a game-high 83 yards on 16 carries.
But the Wolves, who outgained Shelton 433-173, were not finished. Senior safety Ray Chico scored on a 30-yard interception return, and junior Chris Hutcherson reached the end zone for the first time in his career when he broke two tackles on a 31-yard run with 1:46 left in the game.
“We just put the ball into different peoples hands throughout the game,” Davis said. “We just keep getting better every week.”
They will need to continue that trend against the Bears in a contest that could determine the league champion.
“In our league there are good teams, and it’s critical to win these games,” Sigurdson said. “One of our goals is to be league champion. I know you have to take them one at a time, but this is a big one.”
At South Kitsap 55, Shelton 13
Shelton 0 7 0 6 — 13
South Kitsap 14 21 7 13 — 55
SK—Zach Cruz 1 run (Isaiah Davis kick)
SK—Michael Neiner 19 run (Davis kick)
SK—Neiner 21 run (Davis kick)
S—Taylor Gettle 3 run (Aaron Michaelis kick)
SK—Robert Issa 7 run (Davis kick)
SK—Davis 58 pass from Gordy Anderson (Davis kick)
SK—Davis 39 pass from Anderson (Davis kick)
S—George Roberts 1 run (run failed)
SK—Ray Chico 30 interception return (run failed)
SK—Chris Hutcherson 31 run (Aaron La Deaux kick)
Rushing—George Roberts (S) 16-83; Ryan Adams (S) 4-4; Taylor Gettle (S) 5-21; Drew Johnson (S) 3-9; Dalton Paul (S) 2-5; C.D. Hinkle (S) 3 (-4). Zach Cruz (SK) 11-78; Michael Neiner (SK) 7-78; Robert Issa (SK) 5-54; Chris Hutcherson (SK) 4-44; Jordan Anderson (SK) 3-22; Chris Nenninger (SK) 2-15; D’Aundray Van Slyke (SK) 2-2; Tanner Romo (SK) 2-2.
Passing—Hinkle (S) 6-15-0-54; Tre Fisher (S) 1-1-0-5; Trevor Gill (S) 1-0-1-0. Gordy Anderson (SK) 4-11-0-113; Romo (SK) 1-1-0-11; Davis (SK) 1-1-0-14.
Receiving—Fisher (S) 3-22; Roberts (S) 1-6; Sean Donnell (S) 2-20; Michaelis (S) 1-5. Davis (SK) 2-97; Leon La Deaux (SK) 2-15; Neiner (SK) 1-12; Chris Nenninger (SK) 1-14.