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Win clinches league championship for South Kitsap
It was the second Narrows League championship in three years for South Kitsap coach D.J. Sigurdson.
But for several reasons, this one not only was more significant, it was perhaps one of the most gratifying of his career.
"It's very sweet," Sigurdson said. "We have that zero on the other side of the (loss) column."
The seventh-ranked Wolves remained undefeated with a 47-18 homecoming victory Friday against Lincoln in Narrows League play at Joe Knowles Field.
South has just one league game remaining, Thursday against Mount Tahoma, which means its worst-case scenario is a first-place tie with Olympia. But the Wolves (8-0 overall, 7-0 league) automatically gain the league's top seed into the playoffs based on their 10-6 win Sept. 25 against the Bears at Ingersoll Stadium.
This is the second year that the Narrows has been a unified 11-team league for football. Each team has byes against two programs — South does not play Foss or Wilson this year. But the Wolves defeated Central Kitsap, Gig Harbor and Olympia in the same season for the first time since 2002. That also was the last time they won their first eight games.
Two years ago, South won the Bridge Division championship mostly based on a 7-0 victory against Gig Harbor. The Wolves lost against Central and Olympia, but both those teams were in the Bridge Division.
"I'm not taking anything away from any other team — each team is its own entity — but I'm really happy for these guys," Sigurdson said. "They did a great job. They've earned it."
South accomplished its latest championship behind an offense that produced the second most points of the season. The Wolves' only higher output and margin of victory came Sept. 18 in a 55-13 victory against Shelton.
They needed just three plays to take a 7-0 lead when senior quarterback Gordy Anderson found classmate Leon La Deaux for a 44-yard touchdown. La Deaux, who had three receptions for 64 yards, made a couple of defenders miss before outracing several Abes down the sidelines.
"They always do a great job," Anderson said of his receivers. "They always do an awesome job. There's always a ton of yards after the catch."
Lincoln (2-6, 2-5), which was coming off a 60-point loss against Class 3A Lakes a week earlier, kept the game close at times by dominating the ball. Through its run-heavy, Wing-T offense, the Abes held the ball for 17 minutes, 47 seconds in the first half.
"It was a little frustrating," Sigurdson said. "We didn't tackle very well and we didn't get off blocks very well."
Junior Jordan Russell, who rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, scored on a 27-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to cut the Abes' deficit to 7-6.
"Jordan Russell is a great player," Anderson said. "He's really fast and he can juke. They have really good athletes and we never could count them out."
But La Deaux responded by returning the kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown to give South a 13-7 lead. Lincoln never was within a touchdown again.
The Wolves added two more touchdowns in the second quarter to extend their lead to 27-6 at halftime. Senior Robert Issa scored on a 1-yard run and junior Michael Neiner later found the end zone on a 25-yard dash. Issa, who entered the game with 918 rushing yards, surpassed the 1,000-yard mark. He finished with 101 yards on 12 carries.
Issa scored his second touchdown in the third quarter on a 5-yard run to put South ahead 33-6. But as well as the Wolves ran the ball, their normally stout defense struggled to contain Lincoln. With the exception of a pass-interference call and two incompletions — three of 10 passes sophomore Bryce Dillard attempted — the Abes used six rushing plays to drive 67 yards. Dillard scored on a 3-yard keeper to cut their deficit to 33-12.
Lincoln carried the ball 49 times for 277 yards (5.7 yards per carry). In addition to Russell, senior Marquise Henry had 65 yards on six carries.
"They played well on offense," Sigurdson said. "They really controlled the line of scrimmage."
But South again was able to respond as Anderson found La Deaux on play for a 14-yard touchdown with 1:18 left in the third quarter. Anderson, who completed 9 of 15 passes for 179 yards, in addition to two touchdowns and an interception, departed after that drive. He was replaced by junior Tanner Romo.
"I thought the running backs and receivers did a great job of getting yards after the catch," Sigurdson said.
Both teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter with Russell scoring on a 1-yard run and the Wolves capitalizing on a fumble recovery by junior Isaiah Davis to set up at the Lincoln 13-yard line. Three plays later, senior Jordan Anderson scored on a 7-yard run.
Gordy Anderson is confident heading into the playoffs. South's first game will be against the No. 2 team from the 4A Greater Saint Helens League — Heritage, Kelso or Skyview.
"We have a lot of returners," he said. "Our coaches do an amazing job each week of scouting the teams. They have tons of data and do tons of work. We really appreciate that."
At South Kitsap 47, Lincoln 18
Lincoln 0 6 6 6 — 18
South Kitsap 7 20 13 7 — 47
SK: Leon La Deaux 44 pass from Gordy Anderson (Isaiah Davis kick)
L: Jordan Russell 1 run (kick failed)
SK: La Deaux 80 kickoff return (kick failed)
SK: Robert Issa 1 run (Aaron La Deaux kick)
SK: Michael Neiner 25 run (A. La Deaux kick)
SK: Issa 5 run (kick failed)
L: Bryce Dillard 3 run (pass failed)
SK La Deaux 14 pass from Anderson (A. La Deaux kick)
L: Russell 1 run (run failed)
SK: Jordan Anderson 7 run (A. La Deaux kick)
Passing: Dillard (L) 2-9-1-24; G. Anderson (SK) 9-15-1-179.
Rushing: Russell (L) 25-149; Geno Horsley (L) 1-2; Marquise Henry (L) 6-65; Dillard (L) 12-19; Leon Jenkins (L) 1-3; Penoy Penilton (L) 2-5; Eddie Jones (L) 2-34; Issa (SK) 12-101; Neiner (SK) 2-30; Davis (SK) 1-1; Jens Johnson (SK) 1-0; Dillon Hops (SK) 1-19; Brian Chester (SK) 1-8.
Receiving: Jones (L) 1-23; Russell (L) 1-1; Davis (SK) 5-97; La Deaux (SK) 3-64; Bo Ottak (SK) 1-18.