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A Trojan triumph
This game wasnt for a state title. It wasnt a playoff game, or even a game with playoff implications.
But you wouldnt have been able to tell the difference on the football field Friday as the Olympic Trojans topped the Bremerton Knights 21-14 before a nearly-packed house at Silverdale Stadium in the Narrows League Bridge Division opener for both schools.
Players were screaming and jumping all around, the crowd was the loudest its been at any Silverdale football game this season, the band was blasting and Eric Allen got the first ice water shower of his Trojan tenure.
But even more important than the milestone win itself was its meaning to the kids that put it all on the line and won.
It feels so good to win that first game, junior Colin Barrett said. We proved them all wrong. It feels so good to win.
Allen said after the win that one of the hardest parts of his job was getting the kids to believe they could win, even while the community, and sometimes even the school itself, was doubting them.
That is the character of these kids, Allen said. That is the heart and soul of what were doing. We had a fire to finish it off and not quit. The first win is always the toughest.
Despite turning the ball over on its opening drive, Olympic (1-2, 1-0) was able to stop the Knights (0-3, 0-1) on fourth and goal on the ensuing drive. Senior Nick Bankus, playing in his first game of the season, was able to sack Bremertons Moises Lovinaria for a 7-yard loss and a turnover on downs.
That fueled an Olympic offensive push that resulted in a 81-yard, 6-and-a-half minute drive that ended when sophomore Ross Payne was able to break out of the middle for a 27-yard touchdown up the left side of the field.
Despite the failed point-after attempt, Oly held its 6-0 lead through the end of the quarter.
On their first drive in the second quarter, the Knights rallied back. After Lovinaria missed receiver Joseph Napier to bring up third-and-nine, junior quarterback Josh Horst came in and found Lovinaria for a 10-yard pickup. After Brandon Hansen then picked up 2 yards on the ground, Lovinaria took off on the keeper for a 10-yard score. Bremertons PJ Mallhi made the PAT, giving Bremerton a 7-6 lead that would hold through the half.
Olympic took the lead back in the third quarter, when quarterback Chris Lane found Bankus on a flat pass that the senior was able to turn into a 16-yard touchdown.
Allen said having Bankus suited up for the Trojans will certainly add another dimension to the teams attack.
Having Bankus back helps a lot, Allen said. I dont think he comes off the field unless he cant physically move.
Bremerton responded on the next drive, needing just one play for Hansen to break a 40-yard run up the left side of the field for a score. After another PAT, Bremerton led 14-12.
But Oly wasnt finished, as on the next drive, running back Rashad Greene was able to scamper 8-yards for a score. The PAT was blocked, but with Oly up 18-14, it would prove to be the eventual game winner.
Bankus added a field goal in the fourth. Xavier Mancha was able to pick off Lovinaria to secure the win, his second interception.
Barrett, a huge defensive catalyst for Oly, finished the game with 2 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries and number of big time hits.
I was going crazy. I was all over the place, Barrett said. I wanted it so bad. Its unbelievable. I cant describe it.
Allen, who said he was a little worried about the Knights heading into the game, said hes sure the Knights will claim a win at some point.
Bremerton is going to get theres. They fought their butts off tonight, Allen said. Its one of those games where you hate that somebody has to win. But thank God it was us.
While Bankus said he was a little unsettled at first, he enjoyed being back out on the field with his teammates. His touchdown reception was his first varsity score.
At first, I was a little nervous, Bankus said. But I just remembered from last year and got in there. It was awesome.
Still just happy for his boys, Allen was unable to put his emotion into words.
Its always kind of a sweet I dont know how to put it, Allen said. But now those kids are winners.
Olympic will travel to Bridge-leader Gig Harbor for a 7 p.m. game Thursday