Sports

A football season to remember

By KITSAP NEWS GROUP

No sport experienced such district-wide success in 2007 than football.

That may have been a surprise to anyone outside of Silverdale’s general boundaries, but for those at Central Kitsap, Olympic and Klahowya, it was simply the result of hard work that had been a long time coming.

Central Kitsap, fueled by Howard McDonald, Caleb Brown and Co., proved nay-sayers wrong time and time again, earning a state ranking twice in the season and advancing to state.

The Trojans saw three years of hard work pay off big with a state preliminary round berth — the school’s first since 1996. Not bad for a one-win team three years ago. With a league title under their belts, the Trojans also will be back for more next year.

And at Klahowya, while the team traveled to Fife for a prelim round game last year, the difference was immense, as the Eagles went from a one-win team in 2006 to a 5-5 (3-1 against the league’s 2A teams) and earning a berth to play Fife in the same round this year.

The All-Kitsap County teams are compiled by the sports writers for the Bainbridge Island Review, the Bremerton Patriot, the Central Kitsap Reporter, the North Kitsap Herald and the Port Orchard Independent. Candidates for the team are nominated by the writers for their respective areas. The nominees are then voted on by the writers, with the top vote-getters making the teams. Two honorable mentions are selected from each school for each sport. The teams include the best players from area schools that not only performed well individually, but played a role in the success of their team as well.

2007 All-Kitsap County Football Team

MVP

RB Howard McDonald, Central Kitsap, junior — Former Central Kitsap quarterback Zac Brown hit the nail on the head in talking about McDonald’s running style after CK blew out South Kitsap 49-21 on Sept. 14. Brown said with how much McDonald spins, twists, leaps, squirms and fights his way down field, watching him run was like playing Madden, the popular video game.

McDonald’s numbers support that observation, as he ran to 1,619 yards on 242 carries with 17 rushing touchdowns. He was also an above-average linebacker, recording 44 tackles with a sack, a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries.

What makes McDonald even sweeter to CK is the fact he was just a junior this year. After helping CK advance to state for the first time since 1997, McDonald will be at the forefront of helping CK repeat that success next year.

Coach of the Year — Mark Keel, Central Kitsap — Last season, the Cougars were 0-7 with three games to go, playing a group made up largely of underclassmen with things not looking much brighter. But Keel rallied his team to three consecutive wins to close the season. So when 2007 began, Keel told his players to stay motivated, to remember the feeling of that win streak.

It worked.

CK finished the regular season at 9-1, second only to an Olympia team that beat them. CK advanced all the way to the state playoffs, falling in the round of 16 to Bothell, still alive in the race for the state’s 4A crown.

Oh yeah, and CK only had 11 seniors this season.

It was clear that in 2007, Keel had his players set on working as a team, which led to winning as a team much more often than losing as one. And now, with most the team coming back, the Cougars are poised to pick up where this year left off.

Offense

QB — Jason Simonis, Central Kitsap, junior — Simonis, who hit a growth spurt prior to the season that saw him grow from a 5-foot, 11-inch sophomore into a 6-foot, 3-inch junior, experience a much more important growth spurt this season. Simonis learned what it means to be poised in the pocket this season, completing 73 of 134 pass attempts for a 54.5 completion percentage. Simonis finished with 1,296 yards and 12 scores to just four interceptions. He also ran in two more scores and should be a big part of CK’s offense next year, even without top target Caleb Brown.

RB — Andre Moore, Klahowya, junior — It wasn’t too hard for Andre Moore to step into the shoes of graduated running back Isaac Solaita. Not only did Moore take Soliata’s jersey number (4), he also took his spot in the Eagles’ record books, breaking the new school record for rushing yards in a season with 1,573 yards on 163 carries for a whopping 9.6 average. He was able to score 17 touchdowns on the ground while adding another score and 46 yards through the air. Defensively, Moore was a standout defensive back, recording 89 tackles along with two picks and three sacks. Just a junior, the best of Moore is yet to come.

RB — Stephen Tucker, South Kitsap, senior — Quality running play was a staple of South Kitsap football when it reached the state playoffs every season from 1980 to 2002, a Washington record. Tucker became the latest star running back for the Wolves, who returned to state for the first time in five years, behind his 1,329 yards and 14 touchdowns on 187 carries.

“He had a great season and definitely lived up to our expectations,” South Kitsap coach DJ Sigurdson said. “He was a captain and really did a nice job in that role.”

WR — Jack Clearman, Kingston, senior — Despite Kingston’s winless season, No. 9 was all over the field for the Buccaneers. Clearman finished the 2007 season with 61 receptions for 838 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was hands down the best receiver in the Olympic League. Clearman’s run-after-the-catch ability resulted in him averaging 13.7 yards per reception. Clearman averaged 104 yards receiving per game.

“Jack is a really talented kid and competitive,” Kingston coach Dan Novick said earlier this season. “He goes and gets the ball in the air. That’s the kind of mentality you need at the receiver position.”

WR — Dimitri Alston, Bremerton, junior — Alston was one of the biggest benefactors of the reins being loosened on quarterback Jacob Belden. While Belden took some time to hit his stride, he was able to connect with Alston to the tune of 376 receiving yards and four scores on 16 receptions. But the best part about Alston is he’ll be back as Belden’s top threat next year too.

TE — Caleb Brown, Central Kitsap, senior — Caleb Brown’s value to Central Kitsap can not be understated. The CK senior and state’s No. 24 recruit according to washingtonpreps.com, was huge on both sides of the ball. Brown gave Simonis a consistent target first off, as Brown caught 25 catches for 689 yards with 8 touchdowns. As a safety, Brown logged 36 tackles with four picks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Brown was also a big return threat for CK, running back punts for 173 yards and two more scores. Brown will land somewhere as a collegiate tight end next fall, the only question now is where.

OL — Gary French, Bainbridge, senior — French was part of a talented offensive line that helped clear the way for Bainbridge’s top running backs to gain 2,564 yards this season despite playing with two painful hip flexors. He also contributed on the defensive line with 32 tackles and one sack. 

OL — Brad Fedderson, South Kitsap, senior — South Kitsap featured three running backs -- Stephen Tucker, Ryan Williams and Sean Allison -- who rushed for 100-yard games this season. Sigurdson attributed some of their success to tight end Matt Foxworthy, whom he regarded as the team’s best blocker and Fedderson, the Wolves’ top offensive lineman.

“He has a tremendous work ethic and he’s come as far as anyone,” Sigurdson said.

OL — David Reynolds, Olympic, senior — Not many kids work harder than David Reynolds. The Trojan senior, standing just 5-11 and weighing in at 220 pounds, was rarely the largest player on the field. But what Reynolds lacked in physical size, he more than made up for with heart, as Olympic coach Eric Allen called Reynolds the top lineman in the Olympic League. Reynolds also helped Oly fill a void on defense, recording 36 tackles in helping the Trojans make it to the state preliminary round for the first time in 11 years. Reynolds is one of many Trojan seniors that will be remembered for helping turn the program around.

OL — Cecil Spence, Central Kitsap, senior — While CK was short on seniors, Spence was one of several that keyed up an offensive line that allowed McDonald, Brown, Simonis and Co. to put up more than 3,000 total yards this season. Spence was a leader for the Cougars and helped set the tone for a work ethic that should continue to permeate the CK program. Defensively, Spence recorded 23 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble for the Cougars.

OL — Dominic Cruz, Klahowya, sophomore — While just a sophomore, Cruz got more than enough experience in 2007. The Klahowya lineman was known throughout the school for his work ethic, with running back Cody Hertenstein as well as other Eagles pointing out Cruz as the standard for “working his butt off.” With Klahowya graduating just one member of it’s O-line this school year, Cruz will continue to be a vital part of the Eagles’ running game.

Defense

DL — Will Morris, Central Kitsap, senior — While Morris’ stats may not be the most impressive around, few defensive linemen put as much pressure on the quarterback as routinely as Morris did. At 6-0 and 260 pounds, Morris had deceptive speed and agility that helped him crack the opposition’s offensive line, as Morris recorded 26 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. But again, some of Morris’ biggest attributes were those not measured in statistics, as he was one of just 11 seniors on this year’s team.

DL — Kyle McCown, North Kitsap, senior — The lanky defensive end possessed a motor that never stopped. McCown finished with nine tackles for a loss and five sacks on the season. No. 90 was one of the hardest hitters on the team.

DL — Dayton Gilbreath, Bainbridge, senior — Like his older brother Bryan, Dayton was a threat to score every time he touched the ball for the Spartans this season, contributing on defense (with 55 tackles, four sacks and four fumble recoveries), offense (rushing for 1,119 yards and 18 touchdowns and catching 12 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown) and special teams (returning two punts for scores).

DL — Rashad Greene, Olympic, senior — Greene was a weapon Olympic could not have done without this season. While his presence on the defensive side of the ball was irreplaceable, he also was a vital cog of the Trojans’ run offense. Greene picked up 479 yards on 62 carries from the backfield, scoring 11 times. Defensively, he recorded 51 tackles with 5.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a block. His blocking also helped open lanes for super sophomore Larry Dixon. But again, it’s Greene’s example as one of the seniors that turned the team from a one-win squad two years ago to the state tourney contender this season that will be missed most.

LB — Chris Martindale, Bremerton, senior — A senior, Martindale was a prolific tackler for the Knights, recording an astounding 90 tackles with a sack, a pick and two fumble recoveries. While Martindale won’t be back to try to help the Knights continue the growing process, his example will remain as one to follow.

LB — Josh Burlingame, South Kitsap, senior — After missing nearly the entire 2006 season with a torn anterior-cruciate ligament in his right knee, the 5-foot-9 1/2-inch, 207-pound Burlingame returned as the Wolves’ “emotional leader” on defense, according to Sigurdson. Burlingame led the Wolves with 76 tackles and was known as the team’s hardest hitter.

LB — Chris Wade, Kingston, senior — Buccaneers middle linebacker Wade was the heart and soul of the Buccaneers defense. Wade was always around the ball, which was evident by the team-high 77 tackles he made in Kingston’s eight games. He averaged 9.625 tackles a contest.

DB — Blake Johnson, Olympic, sophomore — What a year Johnson had. Another of Oly’s impact sophomores, Johnson was vital defensively for the Trojans, picking off an almost unheard of 11 passes. He also recored 62 tackles. Offensively, he was quarterback Zach Bird’s top target, catching 12 passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns, adding another score on a 20-yard run. His speed and field vision also helped him return 155 yards this season. He’ll be part of a core that will seek to keep Oly atop the Olympic League.

DB — Glen Hewey, Central Kitsap, senior — Few put as much into the program as Hewey, and even less took CK’s season-ending loss to Bothell at state as hard. Hewey was nothing short of consistent for the Cougars this season despite being overshadowed in the secondary by Brown. But flying under the radar was just fine for Hewey, as the CK senior recorded 23 tackles and four interceptions.

DB — Greg Ottele, North Kitsap, senior — A multi-talented Mr. Everything, Ottele finished the year with four interceptions from his strong safety position. The hard-hitting senior also played well on the offensive side of the ball, finishing with 364 yards on the ground.

DB — Cody Hertenstein, Klahowya, junior — Another key two-way player, Hertenstein helped the Eagles on both sides of the ball and ultimately, back to the state prelim round. He ran for 749 yards on 140 carries while scoring eight times in addition to his defensive numbers: 62 tackles and a pick. Hertenstein was most exciting to watch on special teams, however, as he recorded three blocks on punts and kicks and came close to about a half-dozen more.

Special Teams

K — Zach Sampson, North Kitsap, junior — Sampson connected on 21-of-23 extra points for the Vikings this year. Sampson booted a 39-yard field goal breaking a school record that had stood for 20 years in the final game of the season against Port Angeles. He scored 29 points and averaged 48.7 yards on each kickoff this year.

P — Kevin McCormick, Bainbridge, sophomore — McCormick did the job for the Spartans this season with his strong leg, punting 25 times for 807 yards, averaging 32.3 yards per punt and pinning opponents deep in its territory time after time. 

RET — Ryan Williams, South Kitsap, junior — The Wolves’ star return man follows his older brother, Renard, who now is at Eastern Washington, on the All-Kitsap team. Sigurdson said his initial reaction when he saw the younger Williams, who weighs 100 pounds less than his brother, was “those guys are related?” but it didn’t take long for him to get recognized. He had kickoff returns of 93, 89 and 84 yards this year — all for touchdowns.

Honorable

mention

DL — Zane Sackett, Bainbridge, junior — With 42 tackles, Sackett was part of a talented defensive line that forced many a runner into the backfield. He also played on the offensive line and opened many a hole for Spartan runners to shoot through. Sackett is one of the top returners for Bainbridge next season. 

KR — Ryan Cleaver, North Kitsap, senior — Cleaver was adept at following his blockers throughout the season. Cleaver took back two kickoffs for scores in 2007. He averaged 28.6 yards per kick return. Perhaps his most acrobatic play of the season came against Wilson Oct 26.

DL — Alex Van Deen, Kingston, junior — The Kingston defensive lineman might have been playing for the first-year Bucs, but he brought with him a level of experience not many others had. Van Deen was one of just a handful of North Kitsap starters to make the switch to Kingston. He will continue to be a leader for the Bucs in 2008.

OL — Greg Gole, Central Kitsap, senior — Gole made a sacrifice for his team in switching to the line, a position he had never played before his final campaign. Not only did it pay off big for him, as he was solid on offense and recorded 24 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble on defense, but it also paid off for the team, as Gole’s selflessness aided an offense that was among the most dangerous on this side of the water.

RB — Larry Dixon, Olympic, sophomore — In any other year, Dixon would have been a no-brainer for the All-Kitsap squad, if not even the MVP. But in a year of crowded running backs (six backs topped 1,000 yards in Kitsap in 2007), Dixon was one of a few left on the outside looking in. But don’t expect that trend to continue. Dixon rushed for 1,462 yards on 164 carries, scoring 12 times while adding a receiving score as well. If anyone didn’t know Dixon’s name by season’s end, they will next year guaranteed.

DB — Alex Schell, Klahowya, senior — Schell was one of just five seniors at Klahowya this season, but had the most impact of the small group. A leader on defense, Schell logged 57 tackles to go with two interceptions in his final hurrah. That leadership, as well as his on-field ability, will be missed in 2008.

RB — Jamiere Abney, Bremerton, senior — The Bremerton senior was the anchor on offense. Like Dixon, he was another back to crack the 1,000-yard barrier, finishing 2007 with 1,091 yards and eight scores. Abney, along with backfield mate Alex Griffin, will be tough to replace for the Knights.

QB/LB — Chad Tester, South Kitsap, senior — He won’t put anyone in awe from a statistical standpoint, but Tester’s value came in his versatility and selflessness. He volunteered to move to quarterback when both of the Wolves’ 2006 starters graduated and then shifted from safety, where he’s received recruiting attention, to linebacker to fill a void. He finished with 45 tackles.

RB — Ross Cobb, Bainbridge, junior — Before he was done for the year with a concussion, Cobb led the team in rushing for a time and was the speedster that complimented Gilbreath’s brusing style. He finished with 736 yards on just 69 carries and scored eight touchdowns. Cobb will be the top back to replace Gilbreath next season for the Spartans.

RB — Jamaal Smith, North Kitsap, senior — Despite only competing in five games, Smith finished 470 yards rushing on 75 carries averaging 6.3 yards every time he ran the ball. Smith definitely would have registered bigger numbers if he would have been able to play the entire season.

QB — Paul Bagala, Kingston, junior — Kingston signal caller Paul Bagala threw for 1,338 yards and ran for 373 in his first season as a starting quarterback. He completed 118 passes for a completion percentage of 50.6 percent. Bagala tossed 11 touchdown passes and scored two rushing touchdowns as well.

DB — Brandon Joiner, Central Kitsap, senior — Joiner was another big part of CK’s pass defense, as the CK senior recorded 28 tackles along with a pick and a fumble recovery. He was also big on special teams, coming up with two blocks for the Cougars. With Brown and Hewey also graduating, Joiner will also be missed in the secondary next season.

LB — Garrett Brown, Olympic, junior — Brown was responsible for what will go down as one of the biggest games of the season for Olympic. In the season finale with Peninsula, Brown, cast over his left arm and all, returned both a fumble and a pick for scores to help Oly win the league title outright. Brown finished with 63 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a fumble recovery as well.

LB — Justin Shaputis, Klahowya, senior — Shaputis was another strong role-playing senior for the Eagles, using his skills for 18 tackles and two sacks for Klahowya. Again, with just five seniors, his experience and leadership was a commodity the Eagles couldn’t do without.

RB/DB — Alex Griffin, Bremerton, senior — Griffin, a state track runner, used his speed to burn defenses to the tune of 448 yards and three touchdowns as a change-of-pace back for the Knights. As a receiver, he caught eight passes for 294 yards and three scores. Defensively, he made 30 tackles and recorded a pick and fumble recovery.

OL/DL — Matt Foxworthy, South Kitsap, senior — Sigurdson regarded him as the Wolves’ top blocker and he was one of the team’s most consistent performers on both sides of the ball. He finished with 27 tackles.

DB — Deanzalo Thomas, Olympic, junior — Thomas came up with several big plays for the Trojans this season, picking off four passes to go with 26 tackles and a fumble recovery.

DL — Matt Mehs, South Kitsap, senior — Defensive linemen typically don’t register many tackles, but Mehs was active from the end spot. He finished with 73 tackles — the second-highest total on the team behind Burlingame (76).

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