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South Kitsap has little difficulty in closing out perfect regular season
It was a game that might as well have been on the PlayStation or Xbox.
South Kitsap made it look as easy as pressing control buttons en route to a 54-20 win against Mount Tahoma in Narrows League play Thursday at Joe Knowles Field.
The Wolves (9-0 overall, 8-0 league) finished with their first undefeated regular-season record since 2002. They also clinched the Narrows championship outright and will Heritage (4-5), the second-place team out of the Class 4A Greater Saint Helens League, at 7 p.m. Saturday at Silverdale Stadium.
"It feels like we've done our job," South coach D.J. Sigurdson said. "It's really nice to be 9-0, but it doesn't mean a thing next week. That will be the approach."
No. 7 South scored on 6 of 8 first-half possessions and outgained the Thunderbirds 381-121 during that span. Five of those touchdowns came on explosive plays of 20 yards or greater.
Sigurdson felt the early production was significant for establishing momentum. Mount Tahoma snapped a nine-game league losing streak the previous week with a 42-40 double-overtime win against Gig Harbor.
"That's the biggest game in the last 25 years for that school," Sigurdson said. "They were riding high. I thought our kids did a good job of putting it to them right away."
It began when senior quarterback Gordy Anderson found 5-foot-9 junior wide receiver Isaiah Davis over the middle. Davis won the footrace to the end zone for a 69-yard touchdown. Davis finished with a team-high three receptions for 89 yards.
"We felt confident about everything," said Anderson, who hopes to walk on next year at Washington State. "Everyone was making great plays like we always do. It's just a great win."
The Wolves showed their offensive versatility midway through the opening quarter. Senior Robert Issa, who finished with 106 yards on 12 carries, carried the ball twice for 36 yards before giving way to classmate Chris Nenninger on the third play of the possession. Nenninger, behind a Davis block, scored on a 34-yard run.
South returned to a familiar touchdown connection in its final two first-quarter possessions. Anderson, who completed 7 of 12 passes for 220 yards and four touchdowns, found senior wide receiver Leon La Deaux for 53- and 33-yard touchdown passes.
"We just took advantage of what the defense gave us," La Deaux said. "Gordy made some nice passes."
Junior running back Michael Neiner became the fourth different Wolves player to score a touchdown midway through the second quarter on an 8-yard run. That made the score 34-0 after a fumbled extra-point opportunity.
Mount Tahoma (2-7, 1-7) finally scored with 3 minutes, 38 seconds left in the half. The T-Birds maintained possession with a 12-yard, fake-punt run on fourth-and-one at their own 44. Two plays later, quarterback DeAndre Baines found wide receiver Xavier Bazille for a 20-yard touchdown. Baines then hit Josh Traylor in the end zone for the two-point conversion.
But South extended its lead to 41-8 at halftime when Issa scored on a 17-yard run with 15 seconds left. The score created a bit of a quandary for Sigurdson, though. His team has a playoff game to prepare for, but he also did not want to embarrass the T-Birds.
"We never want to be unsportsmanlike, but we also want our kids to have a chance to go out and execute," Sigurdson said. "We didn't see any pull back from our kids and thought they showed a lot of maturity to do that."
Anderson and the rest of the Wolves' first-team ran one drive in the second half, which lasted just five plays when Anderson hit senior tight end Greg Pickard for a 31-yard touchdown to extend their lead to 48-8.
South's reserves added one more touchdown on the next possession when Jordan Anderson scored on a 19-yard run.
At that point, the clock ran continuously per Washington Interscholastic Activities Association guidelines. Sigurdson said that occurs when one team builds a 45-point lead in the second half and only stops after scores and timeouts.
The T-Birds kept many of their starters in the game and scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Baines scored on a 1-yard run and threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Josh Traylor with 1:23 left.
But the outcome never was in question. The Wolves avoided a letdown game during the regular season. They won four games this season by 10 points or less. South also had four victories by at least 20 points.
"We've had senior leadership and the coaches really kicking our butts every day," La Deaux said. "There were people continually pushing us to reach another level."
He knows the Wolves will need that with a potential state opener against Skyline, which lost against Bothell 25-20 in the Class 4A KingCo championship game Thursday. It was the Spartans’ first loss against a Washington state team since 2006.
"It's going to get harder," La Deaux said. "You just have to continually challenge yourself to get better and that will help your teammates."
And Sigurdson likes how his team is playing entering the playoffs.
"I feel really good about the effort we get out of them and how important it is to them," he said. "I feel really good about the work our coaches are doing. I feel really good about our situation."
At South Kitsap 54, Mount Tahoma 20
Mount Tahoma 0 8 0 12 — 20
South Kitsap 28 13 13 0 — 54
SK: Isaiah Davis 69 pass from Gordy Anderson (Aaron La Deaux kick)
SK: Chris Nenninger 34 run (A. La Deaux kick)
SK: Leon La Deaux 53 pass from Anderson (A. La Deaux kick)
SK: L. La Deaux 33 pass from Anderson (A. La Deaux kick)
SK: Michael Neiner 8 run (kick failed)
MT: Xavier Bazille 20 pass from DeAndre Baines (Josh Traylor pass from Baines)
SK: Robert Issa 17 run (A. La Deaux kick)
SK: Greg Pickard 31 pass from Anderson (A. La Deaux kick)
SK: Jordan Anderson 19 run (kick failed)
MT: Baines 1 run (pass failed)
MT: Traylor 27 pass from Baines (pass failed)
Passing: Baines (MT) 8-21-1-194; G. Anderson (SK) 7-12-0-220; Tanner Romo (SK) 1-2-0-6.
Rushing: Baines (MT) 7-16; Michael Allen (MT) 1--6; Charlandez Powell (MT) 4-8; Robbie Tabois (MT) 3-1; Ongosia Soane (MT) 15-57; Josh Iverson (MT) 2--5; Josh Lord (MT) 1-17; Issa (SK) 12-106; Nenninger (SK) 2-34; JC Parker (SK) 1-30; J. Anderson (SK) 8-40; Neiner (SK) 3-30; Chris Hutcherson (SK) 1-2.
Receiving: Mason Koester (MT) 1-8; Bazille (MT) 4-107; Powell (MT) 1-13; Traylor (MT) 1-27; Davis (SK) 3-89; La Deaux 2-88; Pickard (SK) 2-55; Greg Johnson (SK) 1-6.