Teams often do not require extra motivation in rivalry games.
But Central Kitsap might have had a slight advantage in that area during Friday’s 28-14 win against South Kitsap at Joe Knowles Field.
Both teams had plenty of incentive to win in addition to bragging rights as a victory offered the opportunity to advance to the playoffs. Meanwhile, the loser knew it would face a meaningless season finale against a Class 3A Narrows League opponent.
CK coach Mark Keel played up the latter element. He said the Cougars (7-2 overall, 4-2 4A Narrows) faced the specter of playing at Shelton to close out the season if they lost against the Wolves.
“We got a good motivation when we had to go back up to Shelton,” he said. “I always use that, ‘Do you guys want to go back up to Shelton?’ ”
That looked feasible early. South (3-6, 2-4), which secured just its third losing season since 1977, scored on its first possession when senior wide receiver Dylan Garcia took a pass from junior Cooper Canton 66 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown. Garcia finished with 164 yards on eight receptions.
The Wolves again moved the ball effectively late in the first quarter and appeared poised to take a two-score lead. That nearly happened when Canton found senior Marcus Burk in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown pass. But that was negated by a penalty. On the ensuing play, Canton connected with senior running back Ramon Marin, but he fell a few yards short of a first down.
It was a beginning of a trend for South. The Wolves were penalized 29 times for 270 yards.
“It felt like we were winning that game,” South senior wide receiver Logan Knowles said. “We were moving the ball well, it’s just that we were also moving it backwards at the same time with penalties. Every positive play we would look back and there was a flag on the ground.”
While the Wolves sputtered, the Cougars took advantage of an important second-quarter addition: senior Andrew Schwieterman.
The versatile Schwieterman lines up at wide receiver, running back and quarterback for CK. But he was benched for the first quarter after he showed up late for the team bus in Silverdale.
“I think we were off-kilter because Andrew wasn’t out there for the first quarter,” Keel said. “That affected the play calling.”
The Cougars’ offense seemed to expand upon Schwieterman’s return. He caught a 24-yard pass that helped set up junior Sean Barefield’s 4-yard touchdown to tie the game, 7-all, with 7 minutes, 25 seconds remaining in the first half.
CK then took the lead, 14-7, on its first possession of the second half when senior quarterback Riley Paschal found classmate Taylor Soete for a 24-yard touchdown pass. Paschal, who completed 11 of 17 passes for 145 yards, later connected with junior wide receiver Christian Jacobs on a 5-yard touchdown pass to extend the Cougars’ lead to 21-7 with 11:48 left in the fourth quarter.
Knowles, who said his team put an extra defender in the box in an effort to contain the run, then had its only breakdown in that area when junior running back Vaughn Beebe went untouched on a 70-yard carry up the middle on CK’s next possession. That gave the Cougars a 28-7 lead with 10:12 left.
It essentially forced South to run an “Air Raid” offense. Canton completed 22 of 35 passes for 304 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“I think they gave us our best shot,” Keel said. “We knew what we had to stop and I think we did that — their counter and their lead. I’ve always said if you can get South Kitsap passing, you’ve got them where you want them.”
Canton kept it entertaining, though. After he found Burk for a 4-yard touchdown with 7:45 remaining, Canton led the Wolves to CK’s 15-yard line on their next possession. But Canton’s next throw was intercepted in the end zone by Barefield as he was looking for senior wide receiver Joshua Franklin.
South also drove down to the Cougars’ 27 on its final possession before Canton was sacked on fourth down and CK ran out the clock to earn its first win at Joe Knowles since 2004. It also marked the first time since 1977 that the Wolves, who were 1-4 at home, finished with a losing record at Joe Knowles.
The result means the Cougars will play South Puget Sound League South Division champion Graham-Kapowsin (9-0), the third-ranked team in the state, on the road next week in the state play-in game.
“That’s what we work for,” Schwieterman said. “We expect to make the playoffs every year.”
South will finish its season at 7 p.m. Friday against Foss, which competes in 3A Narrows, at Mount Tahoma High School. Even with a win against CK, South would not have advanced to the state play-in game for a second consecutive year because Olympia defeated Yelm 48-10. Both the Cougars and Olympia finished with identical league records, but CK won the tiebreaker based on its head-to-head victory.
“We could’ve played spoiler tonight,” Knowles said. “That would’ve been nice.”
Central Kitsap 28, at South Kitsap 14
Central Kitsap 0 7 7 14 - 28
South Kitsap 7 0 0 7 - 14
SK-Dylan Garcia 66 pass from Cooper Canton (Kees Metselaar kick)
CK-Sean Barefield 4 run (Kevin White kick)
CK-Taylor Soete 24 pass from Riley Paschal (White kick)
CK-Christian Jacobs 5 pass from Paschal (White kick)
CK-Vaughn Beebe 70 run (White kick)
SK-Marcus Burk 4 pass from Canton (Metselaar kick)
Passing-Riley Paschal (CK) 11-17-0-145, Cooper Canton (SK) 22-35-2-304.
Rushing-Vaughn Beebe (CK) 11-102, Sean Barefield (CK) 13-16, Paschal (CK) 2--13, Jordon Bautista (CK) 3-11, Hudson Keffer (CK) 3-26, Andrew Schwieterman (CK) 2-12, Corey Bell (SK) 5-16, Marshaud DeWalt (SK) 7-57, Canton (SK) 2--14, Xavier Wells (SK) 2-2.
Receiving-Taylor Soete (CK) 5-91, Schwieterman (CK) 4-41, Christian Jacobs (CK) 1-5, Keffer (CK) 1-8, Dylan Garcia (SK) 8-164, Ramon Marin (SK) 1-5, Logan Knowles (SK) 4-35, Tanner Paulson (SK) 1-9, Brayden Maynard (SK) 2-9, DeWalt (SK) 1-9, Joshua Franklin (SK) 3-58, Marcus Burk (SK) 1-4.