Who will win this year’s ‘Bucklin Battle?’

Oly coach Eric Allen gets a lift from Doug Weable after topping CK last year. This year, the Battle of Bucklin Hill is anyone’s game. - Photo by Jesse Beals/file photo 2006
Oly coach Eric Allen gets a lift from Doug Weable after topping CK last year. This year, the Battle of Bucklin Hill is anyone’s game.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals/file photo 2006

Helmets will clash once more as the “Battle” rages on.

Friday kicks off the 2007 high school football season in a big way, with the 35th annual Battle of Bucklin Hill, the rivalry game between Central Kitsap and Olympic high schools.

“The nice thing is every year, it’s a new game,” Olympic coach Eric Allen said. “You never know who will win. That’s the great thing about rivalries.”

Olympic proved that last year, knocking off the favored Cougars 9-6 in an overtime thriller. CK leads the all-time series 20-14.

But CK coach Mark Keel knows his team will want to avenge last year’s loss just as much as the Trojans want to start a win streak of their own in the rivalry series.

“That’s always exciting,” Keel said. “We’ll just go in and try to play. That’s what we’re focusing on; playing a better first game than we did last year.”

Olympic used the game to go on to its best season since 1999, finishing 5-5 but missing out on the postseason in the Olympic League.

Central Kitsap went on to fall in seven straight before finishing on an upswing, winning three games to close out the 2006 season at 3-7.

Keel said using that momentum should only help as the rivalry game nears, adding that starting the season off with a win can be huge.

“That’s very important,” Keel said. “Especially when we have those three games last year as motivation. We think we can keep taking steps forward.”

Allen said while he knows CK will be ready, his Trojans too know how important starting the season off on the right foot can be.

“We’re always excited to play the big brother,” he said. “I think they’ll be, as we will be, very excited. They played very well at the end of the year last year. We’re just hoping we’ll be able to show up and play well.”

While the coaches know the rivalry is both fun and important, it means just as much to the players themselves, if not more.

“That was disappointing last year,” CK running back Howie McDonald said. “They won, congrats to them. But we’re gonna be a lot better this year.”

Regardless of the fact the game is against CK, Oly senior quarterback Erik Gratz said it’ll just be nice to get an idea of where the team will go from there.

“It sets the bar high for the season,” Gratz said. “If we win, it’s keep it going from there. If we lose, it’s build up from there. It sets the bar.”

No matter what’s happened in past Battles, everyone’s focus will be on the Silverdale Stadium field come Friday, fans, coaches and players alike.

“I’m looking forward to the Oly game,” CK’s Will Morris said. “That’s what we’re all looking forward to right now.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday. Klahowya and Bremerton play at 7:30 p.m. in the second game of the opening double-header.

Battle of Bucklin Hill

Here’s a breakdown of recent Battles.

Sept. 1, 2006: Oly 9-6 OT

Sept. 29, 2005: CK 45-0

Oct. 1, 2004: CK 29-0

Oct. 17, 2003: CK 21-6

Oct. 17, 2002: CK 37-19

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