Sports

With Knights down, Oly has one to go

Olympic’s Blake Johnson picks off this pass attempt by Bremerton’s Jacob Belden, his state-high 11th interception of the year. He returned this one for a score but a penalty negated the return. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Olympic’s Blake Johnson picks off this pass attempt by Bremerton’s Jacob Belden, his state-high 11th interception of the year. He returned this one for a score but a penalty negated the return.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

The Trojans took another step toward constructing an undefeated league championship last Friday, but just as in the 30-16 victory over Bremerton, the team is still all business.

“We’re not celebrating yet,” said coach Eric Allen. “We still have to beat Peninsula, or it’s a coin flip to see who plays Ferndale.”

With at least a share of the Olympic League title sewn up, the Trojans (7-0, 6-0) are now focusing on setting themselves up for the post season. Another win over Peninsula (6-2, 4-1) would put Olympic at home to start the playoffs instead of hitting the road to play the No. 5-ranked 3A team in the state. And, just as there’s no look-ing past the Seahawks this week, there was no looking past Bremerton on Friday.

“I knew Bremerton would do this,” Allen said of a game that was closely contended all the way. “Nate (Gillam) does a good job of getting them ready and they’re a tough bunch of kids.”

The Knights were ready from the opening whistle. Bremerton (1-7, 0-5) put together a nice drive that went to the Oly 24 and was just a wet pass off the fingertips away from a first-possession touchdown. When the Trojans took over on downs, Bremerton notched its first defensive score of the year when Travis Storey batted a Zach Bird pass at the line and Chris Martindale got under it and rumbled 34 yards into the end zone. Except for a Jacob Belden to Jamaree Wells touchdown pass against Port Angeles on Oct. 5, it was the Knights only first-quarter score of the season. Alex Griffin carried in the two-point conversion on a sweep to the right and the Trojans trailed 8-0.

Oly’s powerful ground game got rolling on the next possession and Larry Dixon blasted 24 yards to cap the scoring drive with 3:55 to go in the first quarter. Martindale stopped the two-point try.

Blake Johnson ended the following Knight drive, picking off his 10th pass of the year on the 4-yard line. A penalty put the Trojans back to their own 2, setting up a 98-yard drive. A pair of first-down passes from Bird were mixed in with more strong running and Dixon cashed in again with a 35-yard burst behind a solid wall of blockers early in the second quarter. His two-point run put Oly up 14-8.

Bremerton fought back again and Jamiere Abney nearly broke off a huge touchdown run, but was caught from behind after sprinting 38 yards. That saving tackle also sparked the defense to stop the Knight drive. Olympic took it right back down the field to score on a 1-yard plunge by Rashad Greene with 1:27 left in the half. Greene added the two-point conversion with another solid run.

The first-half dramatics still weren’t over, as Bremerton fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but the Knights’ Alex Griffin scooped up the ball and ran it out to the 36. An Oly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty took the ball all the way into Trojan territory, but Johnson gathered in his state-leading 11th interception to end the threat.

The third quarter started in defensive mode, with the first punts of the night coming from both teams. Abney brought Bremerton within six on a 63-yard touchdown run with 1:51 to go, setting up another Griffin two-point conversion. That score was the Knights’ only touchdown in any third quarter this year. Abney racked up 169 yards on 26 carries.

Then, as championship teams need to do, Olympic answered back convincingly. Dixon rattled off a 20-yard carry and Greene got loose for a 42-yard touchdown with :31 to go in the quarter. Chris Lane ran in the two-pointer, to account for the final score of the contest. Dixon ended with 184 of Oly’s 343 rushing yards, carrying 25 times, and Greene added 84 on eight runs on the night.

“We came out and played well in the second half, Gillam said. “Our defense had a few breakdowns that allowed them to have big runs, but overall, our defense played well enough to win.”

Neither team scored in the fourth quarter and Garrett Brown seemed to be everywhere on defense for the Trojans. The junior linebacker made several key plays throughout the game, but seemed to pick up steam in the second half.

“We had an interesting halftime,” Allen said, “I’ll put it that way. I made a few comments that I knew he would respond to. He’s a leader of ours that needs to play that kind of game.”

While the Trojans are trying to wrap up the Olympic League campaign on Friday in Purdy, the Knights will be looking for revenge at home against Port Angeles.

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