South Kitsap, Lincoln matchup a reunion for coaches

South Kitsap’s football game against Lincoln tonight is the annual homecoming game.

In more ways than one.

First-year Lincoln coach Mike Merrill was an assistant along with D.J. Sigurdson for the Wolves under Ed Fisher in the early 1990s. Sigurdson stuck around and succeeded the legendary coach in 1997. Merrill made stops at Auburn Riverside, Mount Rainier and Lake Washington before taking over at Lincoln this year.

“We’re good friends,” Sigurdson said. “We’ve gone our separate ways a little bit and haven’t kept in touch a lot, but I called him Monday and we picked up right where we left off.”

Merrill, who was an assistant coach the last two years at Clover Park, has moved Lincoln from a spread offense to the Wing-T scheme he has operated at his previous stops. The results have been slow as the Abes have a 2-5 record, but Sigurdson is confident his friend will turn it around.

“He’s a good guy and a good coach,” he said. “He’ll get them organized.”

Lincoln has struggled on the defensive side of the ball throughout the season and suffered through its worst performance during a 67-7 loss last week against Class 3A Lakes. But Sigurdson said the Abes have plenty of good athletes on that side of the ball.

He said the same is true on the offensive side. Junior running back Jordan Russell, who had more than 1,000 rushing yards a year ago, is regarded by many as one of the top players in the Narrows League. Senior Quintin Brown also is a dual-threat quarterback.

“Their quarterback actually returned a kick for a touchdown,” Sigurdson said. “They have athletes everywhere that can make plays.”

He said his team must force the Abes to develop long, sustained drives because most of its offensive production comes from big plays.

That also means the Wolves (7-0 overall, 6-0 league) must tackle better than they did during Saturday’s 39-20 win at Stadium.

“We could tackle a little better and line up a little better,” Sigurdson said. “We had a few miscues on defense that didn’t cost us, but will in the future if we don’t get them corrected.”

He said those will be areas of emphasis during the last two regular-season games against Lincoln and Mount Tahoma. Those teams have a combined 3-11 record, but Sigurdson said his team is motivated to improve before the playoffs.

And with South ranked ninth last week, he said those teams will have plenty of motivation to pull an upset.

“They still have athletes and they still want to win,” Sigurdson said.

He only hopes his team can perform as well on offense as it did against Stadium. South scored touchdowns on its first four offensive possessions produced a season-high 523 yards of total offense.

“I thought our kids executed pretty well,” he said. “Obviously it wasn’t perfect, but I was happy with the efficiency aside from the fumbles.”

South lost a couple of fumbles against Stadium, but returns to a familiar setting with its final two home games at Joe Knowles Field. The Wolves have not played at home since they beat Central Kitsap 10-0 on Oct. 2.

“It’s nice to come back home,” Sigurdson said. “If you’re playing against those athletes, it’s better to play them here than on the turf.”

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