Sports

Despite loss, CK relishes opening experience

The Central Kitsap Cougars got the opportunity to line up opposite No. 28-ranked Punahou last Saturday at Qwest Field in Seattle as the main game of the Emerald City Kickoff Classic. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
The Central Kitsap Cougars got the opportunity to line up opposite No. 28-ranked Punahou last Saturday at Qwest Field in Seattle as the main game of the Emerald City Kickoff Classic.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

Cougars battled SK last night; results online.

The Buff n’ Blue left Central Kitsap black and blue.

Still, even after Punahou (Hawaii) blasted the Cougars 42-19 at Qwest Field in the main event of the Emerald City Kickoff Classic, the experience was something the Cougars will cherish.

After all, how many high school football players can say they’ve taken the same field as the Seattle Seahawks?

“It was amazing,” CK senior quarterback Jason Simonis said. “It was a dream come true just playing out here in a pro stadium, having fun.”

The Cougars actually hung around with Punahou early, the nation’s No. 28 team according to rivals.com.

CK’s defense kept the Buff n’ Blue from running wild, with CK linebacker Howard McDonald recording a sack on Punahou wide receiver-turned-quarterback Kimo Makaula. Makaula replaced regular quarterback Cayman Shutter, who was injured the week before. While the game was the season opener for CK, it was Punahou’s (3-0) third game. The sack led to a missed field goal.

Punahou didn’t wait much longer however.

Running back Dalton Hilliard scored from 3 yards out with 3 minutes, 24 seconds to play in the first quarter. The Buff n’ Blue added another score when Punahou’s Thurston Kino recovered a fumble by teammate Stabren Caires, scrambling 9 yards in for the score.

Up 14-0, things weren’t looking great for CK. But less than two minutes later, Simonis hit receiver Christian Wesley, who had previously dropped a long completion, for a 64-yard touchdown. CK kicker Christian Berg’s point-after attempt was blocked however.

Punahou’s defense stiffened though, and the Buff n’ Blue broke out to a 35-6 halftime lead.

“Yeah, we just didn’t really have our night tonight,” Simonis said. “They’re a good team.”

CK outscored Punahou in the second half 13-7, but couldn’t make up more of the deficit.

Punahou linebacker Manti Te’o, considered by many to be the nation’s top linebacker recruit, said he was impressed with CK.

“They’re well-coached,” Te’o said. “They play with a lot of sportsmanship. It’s nice to come out here and play people who just want to play football.”

For Te’o and the Buff n’ Blue seniors, it was the second trip to the Emerald City Kickoff Classic. Te’o said he’s enjoyed the Seattle visits.

“It’s been a great experience for me,” he said.

CK respected Te’o’s presence on the field, running away from him the bulk of the time. Still, that’s something the linebacker expects as his reputation continues to precede him.

“At first I thought their scheme was to run away from me,” he said. “But other players on the team had to step up and they did.”

The biggest player to step up was Makaula, who finished the game 19-of-24 for 303 yards, firing three touchdown passes to one interception. Makaula completed an amazing 16 of his first 18 passes.

But most impressive was his mobility, as he avoided heavy pressure from CK at least five times, resulting in completions for all three scores and two more big first downs.

Hilliard finished with 58 yards, adding a receiving score as well, while Punahou teammate Robert Toma caught eight passes for 177 yards and a score.

Simonis finished 10-of-18 for 153 yards and a score, but was picked off twice.

McDonald finished with 48 yards on 11 carries, while both H’arion Gaulden and Cole Adams scored rushing touchdowns.

In addition to Wesley’s big strike, wideout Cameron Anthony caught six passes for 79 yards.

Both teams had to deal with a lot of yellow on the field, combining for 34 flags including penalties that were declined). CK was flagged 12 times while Punahou racked up 22.

The road stays tough for the Cougars, as CK hosted South Kitsap last night (results were unavailable at press time) and will battle Gig Harbor at home this coming Friday at 7 p.m.

“We’ve got a lot to work on,” Simonis said of his squad. “It’s just getting our game back on track.”

Results of last night’s game with SK are online at www.centralkitsapreporter.com.

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