Homecoming is highlight as Cougs go down

No one was expecting the Central Kitsap Cougars to come out and dominate the Gig Harbor Tides Friday night. And while the Cougs (3-6, 3-4) kept the Tides’ (8-1, 6-1) offense to a minimum, CK simply couldn’t keep from shooting itself in the foot.

“We’re young, inexperienced and not very big,” Central coach Mark Keel said after the 28-0 loss at Silverdale Stadium. “That could have played a part in it. But once again, we just made too many mistakes offensively.”

Gig Harbor’s win, coupled with North Kitsap’s 27-10 upset of Shelton, gave the Tides the Narrows League Bridge Division title outright. Had Shelton won, a three-way tie that would have included South Kitsap, would have resulted.

Central played a stellar defensive game, not necessarily making big plays, but keeping the Tides’ Michael Murphy and Gary Cole under wraps. Murphy, whose speedy outside bursts have led to many a long touchdown, and Cole, whose big bruising style makes him a consistent force, were kept under wraps for much of the first half.

But even though the pair were less dangerous than normal in the half, CK still found a way to help out its opponent.

In the first quarter, CK started off very strong offensively, eating up more than half the opening frame. Danny VanDatta was a catalyst on the drive, taking off for 15 yards on the Cougs’ first drive from scrimmage and adding a 21-yard catch two plays later. CK, starting the drive on its own 20-yard line, made it all the way to the Gig Harbor 17, when Zac Brown aired out a pass that went off the fingertips of a leaping Brandon Gutierrez in the end zone. Ryan Compton tried a field goal from 34 yards out, but just missed it.

Gig Harbor got only 15 yards on its opening drive, as the CK defense was not letting anything big get by. CK got the ball back at its own 31 and got huge momentum on an 11-yard run by Derek Smith that featured a bone-shattering block by wide receiver Cody Oakes. With the Cougar faithful noisy and the sidelines rocking, CK seemed to have momentum in its favor.

But it was merely the beginning of a trend that would haunt CK for the evening, with every big-momentum CK play seemingly leading to two more for the Tides.

After the big block and gain, CK was hit with a false start penalty. That was followed by a huge sack from Cole, costing the Cougs 12 yards. The sack was one of several in the game for Gig Harbor.

“Just pressure. They were sending guys in every gap,” Keel said. “They were getting to us a lot in the backfield. You can’t be successful when you let that happen.”

After a delay of game on CK, Brown hit Oakes for a nice 18-yard gain. But that simply preceded a huge interception by Gig Harbor’s Ty Barnes to put the Tides on the CK 31. Four plays later, at the start of the second quarter, Michael Murphy broke the plane for the first of his two scores on the night. Although slowed at first, Murphy finished with 204 yards on 24 carries.

“I think we just came out with a lot of effort,” Keel said. “We

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