Sports

Football: South Kitsap's Murray works both sides of the ball

South Kitsap’s Charlie Murray, center, may be undersized, but he’s putting in a full day on offense and defense for the Wolves. - Jim Robertson photo
South Kitsap’s Charlie Murray, center, may be undersized, but he’s putting in a full day on offense and defense for the Wolves.
— image credit: Jim Robertson photo

His reaction is much different now that the question no longer is a hypothetical.

South Kitsap coach D.J. Sigurdson does not have to ponder the thought of Charlie Murray starting on both offense and defense.

He is effusive in his praise of the junior’s production. But before the season, Sigurdson admits his thoughts would have been much different. He said his reaction would have been “what went wrong” if Murray ended up as a starter on both lines.

Injuries have kept starting offensive linemen Riki Blas and Keith Grey out at different times. But Murray performed well enough at right guard that Sigurdson was comfortable enough to move Grey from that position to right tackle when he returned.

“I didn’t mean to emerge,” said Murray, who credited right guard Nick Boss for helping him develop. “Most of the credit goes to him for helping me out at practice whenever I have a question.”

At 5 feet 9 and 250 pounds, Murray won’t evoke memories of the Wolves’ large, mauling linemen of the past. His twin brother, Chris, is 4 inches taller, but does not play football.

“I look more like other guys on the team than him,” Murray said. “I’m definitely the short runt of the family.”

There is nothing little about his production on the field, though. Murray has pressured the quarterback frequently as South has allowed just 40 points in three Narrows League games. That’s tied for the fewest along with Olympia, which the Wolves beat 10-6 last week at Ingersoll Stadium to snap the Bears’ streak of 28 consecutive regular-season league victories. South enters tonight’s game against Central Kitsap with a 4-0 overall record and 3-0 mark in league play.

When it comes to pressure applied on quarterbacks, Murray said it begins with senior Tyler Hundson. Blas and Hundson started at defensive tackle at the beginning of the season.

“Tyler is a beast,” Murray said. “He rocks the world out of some of those guys. His greatness and my little greatness kind of adds together.”

Sigurdson said Murray is being modest.

“He’s using his hands throwing guys around and making plays,” he said. “He’s definitely earned it.”

But getting to that point was not easy. Every Friday before a game, when Murray needs some inspiration — whether it’s 20 minutes alone in a desolate location at the school or taking a long walk down a trail to the creek behind his sister’s property — it comes from his father. Robert Murray suffered a heart attack and died in his sleep on Jan. 2, 2007.

“Every day I would come home from practice in seventh grade and complain about how hard it was,” said Murray, adding that he reflects on his father the most during wrestling season because of the intense practices. “He would tell me to keep going until I puke. He was a big Texan, never quit kind of guy.”

The boys were in Silverdale buying a present for their new niece and Chris found his father unresponsive when they returned home that night. Robert was 63 years old, the same age his father and grandfather were when they died.

“He was a month away from his birthday, so we thought we broke the curse,” Charlie said. “Once I turn 63, I’m going to retire and go to the beach.”

It is one light moment during a serious conversation. Without delving into specifics, Murray said it was a challenging time for his family. He and his brother now live with their 25-year-old sister. Murray said he also frequently visits his mother, Alice, who moved back to the area after his father’s death. The two divorced in 2003.

“I feel sorry for anyone out there who ever has to deal with anything like that,” he said. “It wasn’t just the initial shock, it was everything that happened afterward.”

Murray is thankful for the compassion his teachers at Marcus Whitman Junior High displayed through the ordeal. He is upbeat again — except about the school’s spring play. Murray is enrolled in Advanced Acting Technique and has participated in school plays dating back to seventh grade. He sighs before discussing this year’s selection.

“Sadly, it’s ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ ” he said, adding that he would prefer to do something else. “I think it’s too much of a lovey, dovey, ‘why always me?’ type of chick-flick play.”

Just being a male is enough for him not to like those types of movies, but there’s another reason for it.

“Every type of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ movie you can think of my sister watches,” he said. “It gets old.”

At least Murray’s prospects on the gridiron never become tired.

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