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Anderson gives Wolves a pass to state
It's South Kitsap's best record since coach D.J. Sigurdson's inaugural year in 1997.
Now, the seventh-ranked Wolves face arguably their biggest game since playing for a state championship that year.
That was accomplished with a 38-21 win Saturday against Heritage of Vancouver in the Class 4A state play-in game at Silverdale Stadium.
The victory means the Wolves will play Skyline (8-2), which defeated Kentridge 42-0 Friday, in the first round of the state playoffs on Saturday at Mount Tahoma High School.
"We won't have any problem getting excited to play them," Sigurdson said. "The work has already begun."
South (10-0) historically has won through a dominant running game. In Sigurdson's 13 seasons, the team has featured future collegiate running backs such as Ryan Cole, Roger Cooper and Victor Valle. But with a returning quarterback in Gordy Anderson and some experienced wide receivers, Sigurdson has not shown a reluctance to throw.
The result was Anderson throwing for a career-high 362 yards against the Timberwolves. He completed 18 of 28 passes for four touchdowns and also was intercepted once.
The offensive efficiency began immediately for South, which had a 10-play, 93-yard drive on its opening possession that culminated with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Anderson to Chris Nenninger. Anderson completed all six of his passes in the opening period for 92 yards.
Senior Bo Ottak made sure the early momentum did not slip away.
David Painter fumbled the ensuing kickoff and it was recovered by Ottak at the Timberwolves 28-yard line. Four plays later, senior Robert Issa scored on a 7-yard run to give the Wolves a 14-0 lead less than 7 minutes into the first quarter.
"In the playoffs, it's great momentum if you come out and attack them early," South wide receiver Leon La Deaux said. "Special teams played great."
South was even more efficient on its next drive. The Wolves took over at their own 7 before Nenninger ran for 12 yards. On the next play, Anderson hit Isaiah Davis at midfield. Davis broke a Painter tackle and outraced several Heritage defenders for an 81-yard touchdown pass. He finished with 178 yards on five receptions.
"I had my best game and my worst game," said Davis, who dropped three passes. "But all that matters is we won."
The Timberwolves (4-6) responded on their next drive behind a 15-play, 80-yard series. Senior quarterback Garrett Grayson, who holds a scholarship offer from Colorado State, ended it with a 3-yard touchdown run.
"Grayson is a great quarterback and a great athlete out there," La Deaux said. "We knew it was going to be a fight in the locker room and we never gave up on it."
But the Wolves, who scored on four of their five first-half possessions, used nearly four minutes toward the end of the half to extend their lead to 24-7 on a 22-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Aaron La Deaux.
South struggled to close out the game in the second half. On its first possession, Leon La Deaux fumbled to give Heritage the ball at the Wolves 43. Grayson, who completed 24 of 36 passes for 191 yards, took advantage by later finding running back Carnell Vernon for a 2-yard touchdown.
The teams then traded early fourth-quarter touchdowns. La Deaux caught a pass from Anderson along the left sideline, cut away from two defenders and ran across the field before crossing the right corner of the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown.
"Isaiah made a great block down there," La Deaux said. "It was just up to me to make a couple of moves. It was a long run, but it was worth it."
The Timberwolves provided their own theatrics. On fourth down, Grayson scrambled for a 22-yard gain down to the South 25. Four plays later, Grayson found Ben Lyons for a 8-yard touchdown.
But for every dramatic play Grayson made, the Wolves provided at least one of their own. Ottak recovered his second fumble after Vernon lost the ball on a 21-yard catch. That gave South possession at the Heritage 38 and opportunity to put the game out of reach. They took advantage of it.
Issa, who had 141 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, had runs of 23 and 3 yards before La Deaux dove into the end zone on a 12-yard pass from Anderson.
"We knew that we were going to need to score," Sigurdson said. "It was nice that we responded almost every time they closed the gap."
Class 4A state play-in game at Silverdale Stadium
South Kitsap 38, Heritage 21
Heritage 0 7 7 7 - 21
South Kitsap 14 10 0 14 - 38
SK: Chris Nenninger 6 pass from Gordy Anderson (Aaron La Deaux kick)
SK: Robert Issa 7 run (A. La Deaux kick)
SK: Isaiah Davis 81 pass from Anderson (A. La Deaux kick)
H: Garrett Grayson 3 run (Garrett Worle kick)
SK: A. La Deaux 22 FG
H: Carnell Vernon 5 pass from Grayson (Wolfe kick)
SK: Leon La Deaux 46 pass from Anderson (A. La Deaux kick)
H: Ben Lyons 8 pass from Grayson (Wolfe kick)
SK: L. La Deaux 12 pass from Anderson (A. La Deaux kick)
Passing: Grayson (H) 24-36-0-191; G. Anderson (SK) 18-28-1-362.
Rushing: Grayson (H) 13-55; Vernon (H) 10-69; Lyons (H) 3-4; Issa (SK) 27-141; Nenninger (SK) 2-17; Michael Neiner (SK) 5-21; G. Anderson (SK) 1-18; Jordan Anderson (SK) 2-3.
Receiving: Cody Yahn (H) 8-47; Lyons (H) 8-68; CJ Hatchett (H) 3-19; Joey Cooper (H) 1-4; Doug Van Aalst (H) 1-12; Vernon (H) 3-41; Davis (SK) 5-178; Greg Pickard (SK) 3-40; Nenninger (SK) 3-48; L. La Deaux (SK) 7-96.