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SK ends Olympia's long run atop Narrows
An audible is a frequent occurrence on the gridiron — just not on special teams.
Coaches rarely are more conservative than when they face fourth down on their side of the field.
The scenario was not any different Friday night when South Kitsap faced a fourth-and-five at its own 18-yard line in the second quarter. Coach D.J. Sigurdson sent out punter Leon La Deaux with a directive to kick the ball left away from Olympia's return man.
That's when La Deaux called his audible.
"I saw our two end guys did a great job of holding them in," he said. "I saw that we were only 5 yards away and I said, 'Let's just run for it and go for the first down.' "
La Deaux not only converted, but used a block by running back Robert Issa and sprinted down the left side for an 82-yard touchdown with 7:57 minutes left in the quarter. It also put South ahead for good in a 10-6 win against the Bears in Narrows League play at Ingersoll Stadium.
"It was supposed to be a normal punt and all of the sudden, all I heard was 'run, run, run,' " Issa said. "I turned around, saw him and I took off. He's an athlete and he knows what he's doing."
Sigurdson said it is one of those plays that a coach only can react to after the end result.
"Right now I feel great about it," he said, adding that he trusts La Deaux, who also ran for a first down on a fake punt in last year's 42-6 loss against Olympia. "Now, if he got tackled for a loss of two, I would be ticked."
La Deaux knew that would be the scenario. He said coaches and teammates congratulated him on being a "playmaker." But if he failed to convert, it might have set up the Bears in the red zone and possibly changed the outcome of the game.
"I think I would be bent over bleeding worse than I am," he said, laughing.
Olympia (3-1 overall, 2-1 league), which was ranked No. 7 in the state's Class 4A Associated Press poll this week, had won 28 consecutive regular-season games in the Narrows. Their last loss was a 14-12 setback on Oct. 22, 2004, at Lincoln. The Bears last loss against a league opponent came in the first round of the state playoffs last year when Central Kitsap upset them 14-10.
"We knew we were the better team and we knew we were going to come out here playing hard," Issa said. "It's one of the best feelings I've ever had."
The Wolves (4-0 overall, 3-0 league) lost their last two meetings against Olympia by a combined score of 75-20. But after allowing a 4-yard touchdown run by Jordan Pine on a drive that was extended when South was called for being offsides on fourth-and-two, the Wolves did not allow any points in the game's final 36 minutes.
"I thought they played a smart game and were pretty physical," Olympia coach Bill Beattie said. "They did a nice job defensively against us."
The Bears moved the ball — Pine rushed for a game-high 137 yards on 23 carries — but South always found a way to make a stop. On the series before La Deaux's score, Olympia was stopped on fourth down at the Wolves' 13.
After La Deaux gave South a 7-6 edge, the Wolves appeared poised to make it a two-touchdown advantage headed into halftime. They drove 74 yards down to the Bears' 1 and used their final timeout with 11.7 seconds left until intermission. Quarterback Gordy Anderson took the snap and plunged into the end zone, but the score was nullified by a delay-of-game penalty. Instead, the Wolves settled for a 22-yard field goal by Isaiah Davis.
South had two drives in the second half that ended inside of Olympia's 35. But the first ended on an Anderson interception and the next was turned over on downs.
That's when the Wolves' defense stepped up again.
Quarterback Jared Mercer guided the Bears down to South's 42 when he was intercepted by Issa in the fourth quarter. But the turnover was negated when the Wolves were cited for an illegal block in the back. Five plays later, Issa responded by again intercepting Mercer on fourth down.
"Our defense is amazing," Issa said. "We're so good together. We know how to communicate and they all play so hard."
The play looked like it might have been a game-clincher, especially when an Olympia player ran into La Deaux on a fourth-down punt that gave South a first down with 1:49 left. But the Bears forced a punt with three consecutive stops.
With 58 seconds left, Olympia drove down to the Wolves' 32. But Mercer's pass into the end zone for Conner Dreesbac was broken up by La Deaux to preserve the win. Sigurdson was impressed with his defense.
"They played really well," he said. "They saved us."
South now is the only undefeated Narrows team. In addition to the Bears, Foss also lost 21-19 at Stadium. The Wolves host Central Kitsap, which defeated Lincoln 31-18 Friday, at 7 p.m. Friday at Joe Knowles Field.
"If people didn't know we were for real before, that didn't bother us," La Deaux said. "It doesn't bother us now that people are going to underestimate us. We're just going to continue to work hard and the team is going to continue to play physical."
South Kitsap 10, at Olympia 6
South Kitsap 0 10 0 0 — 10
Olympia 6 0 0 0 — 6
O-Jordan Pine 4 run (kick blocked)
SK-Leon La Deaux 82 run (Isaiah Davis kick)
SK-Davis 22 FG