Cougars crush Wolves

Central Kitsap’s Glenn Hewey races off the field with his arms in the air in celebration of the Cougars’ 49-21 victory against South Kitsap at home Friday. CK scored 42 points in the second half to send the Wolves to their worst defeat since the 2004-05 season. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Central Kitsap’s Glenn Hewey races off the field with his arms in the air in celebration of the Cougars’ 49-21 victory against South Kitsap at home Friday. CK scored 42 points in the second half to send the Wolves to their worst defeat since the 2004-05 season.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Oh what a difference a year makes.

Last season, the South Kitsap football team dominated Central Kitsap to the tune of a 42-0 win.

But on Friday, it was all Cougs as CK scored 42 points — in the second half alone.

Central Kitsap won 49-21 at home Friday, the largest margin of victory against the Wolves since the 2004-05 season.

And while the usual suspects topped the stat boxes for the third game of the season for the Cougs (3-0), this win was all about team.

“That’s the whole thing,” CK tight end Caleb Brown said. “The last two years, it wasn’t like we didn’t have good players. We had good players, but we didn’t have a good team. We may not have as much talent as before. But we work together. We trust each other so much that team beats talent.”

Brown was one of several at the forefront of Central’s offensive onslaught, making five catches for 257 yards, including touchdown catches of 95 and 84 yards in the third quarter.

Quarterback Jason Simonis was impressive, finishing 9-of-14 passing for 316 yards and two scores. Running back Howard McDonald also finished strong, racking up 167 yards on the ground with four rushing scores.

But for Simonis, the most important players were the ones who won’t show up in the box score.

“The offensive line is just amazing,” Simonis said. “They put it all on themselves. They know they need to do their job to win games. It’s all about them.”

That was probably the biggest difference on the field from a year ago, when CK traveled to Port Orchard only to fall hard against the Wolves (1-2). In addition to the loss, the Cougs suffered several injuries in that game that sent two Cougars to the hospital for precautionary reasons.

“After just last year, even at this point, we had scored one touchdown,” CK coach Mark Keel said. “Just to be able to see those guys after what they went through last year, to be able to come back in a game like this, I’m really happy for the guys.”

Despite the blowout score, the game was close through the first half.

South Kitsap was able to get on the board first when running back Stephen Tucker was able to find a seem up the middle for a 59-yard score. Tucker finished with 96 yards and a score for the Wolves on 16 carries.

The Cougars answered in the second quarter when McDonald got the first of his touchdowns on a 3-yard scamper to cap a 52-yard drive.

But the Wolves, known for strong special teams play, ran back the ensuing kickoff 84 yards on a timely cut to the left by SK’s Ryan Williams. South would finish the first half with a 14-7 lead.

As a result, Keel said he had to make sure an improved performance wasn’t satisfactory for his team.

“We were in a situation where, ‘So what. 2-1 is still better than last year,’” Keel said. “We gave a talk at halftime. I told the guys, ‘You’re very fortunate the game is only 14-7.’”

CK responded, with McDonald scoring again on the Cougs’ opening drive, tying the game.

Brown’s 95-yarder put CK up 20-14 (the point-after attempt missed), but SK regained the lead 21-20 with just more than 2 minutes left in the third quarter. On the next play from scrimmage, however, Simonis placed a perfect pass over the middle to Brown in stride, about 3 yards deep on his defenders. 84 yards later, CK never looked back.

“It’s gonna give us some momentum,” Keel said of the victory. “There’s still some questions after the first two, but anytime you beat South Kitsap, it gives you some momentum.”

For Simonis, the feeling of stability on the line has allowed him to grow as a quarterback.

“It feels great to sit back there in the pocket, just be able to read my receivers,” he said, again attributing that success to the play of the offensive line, led by senior co-captain Greg Gole. “You have time to make some decisions.”

Having a variety of weapons doesn’t hurt either.

“We’ve got Howie to open up the passing game,” Simonis said. “We go to the passing game and it opens the running game.”

As for this season’s offensive explosion (CK is the highest-scoring Narrows League team with 111 points; Foss is second with 95), Keel said anytime a team can score 42 points in one half, it has to be thankful.

“I don’t know many games where we’ve scored 42 points,” he said with a wide grin.

But defense also was a big part of the game, with the Cougars scoring their last touchdown on a 40-yard fumble return by senior Kyler Ackerman, one of two CK fumble recoveries of the day. The Cougs also recorded a sack and numerous tackles-for-losses. SK quarterback Chad Tester was kept off balance throughout the game, finishing just 6-21 for 75 yards.

“(Assistant coach) Eric Shuette does a great job with our defense,” Keel said. “He gets those guys ready to play. He gets ’em in the right spot.”

The locker room scene following the win was another wild one filled with group chants, smiles, cheers and most of all, team unity.

“The way these guys are connecting, hanging out together,” Keel said, “I don’t think we’ve ever had a whole team like that.”

And that’s kept the Cougars determined to keep what is now a six-game win streak dating to last season alive.

“We brought up our energy,” Brown said. “We were so up for this game. As you can see, our intensity still has not gone down. That adrenaline was pumping.”

“It just keeps us going for the season,” Simonis said. “Our goal is the playoffs. We just want to keep going and do what we do.”

The Cougars will travel to Olympia Friday for a 7 p.m. road game against the 1-2 Bears.

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