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Cougars ready for showdown with South
As Mark Keel prepares his young football team for what will be its biggest test to date, the Central Kitsap coach isn’t sugarcoating anything.
“It’s going to be the biggest game in the county,” Keel said of today’s showdown between CK and the South Kitsap Wolves, who climbed to No. 6 in the Class 4A Associated Press football poll after a win over then-No. 7 Olympia last week. “The field’s probably not going to be in great condition, there’s going to be a lot of people, it’s going to be loud.”
Just another day at the office.
The Cougars, coming off a 2008 season in which they advanced to the state semifinals, have beaten South two consecutive seasons, including last year’s 14-13 thriller.
But the Wolves (4-0 overall, 3-0 league), who have advanced to the state playoffs 23 years in a row, are playing as well as any team in the state, already having marquee wins against Olympia, Kennewick and Gig Harbor, a team that beat CK 31-10.
Yet a victory would put CK (2-2 overall, 2-1 league) in position to battle for the Narrows League Bridge Division title, giving it the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Wolves. Both teams would be 3-1 in league play if CK wins.
“We’re going in with that understanding,” Keel said of the implications on the standings. “We’ve talked about it every day. We tell them, ‘Listen, this is what it’s about and this is what we need to do.’”
There’s no mystery when it comes to South’s game plan on offense. The Wolves are a run-heavy team — although Keel said they’ve been throwing more this season — meaning it’s crucial for CK to tackle well.
“Our first concern is to stop their isolation and get their guys on the ground,” Keel said.
It’s been a good week of practice for CK, Keel said, and the team continues to make progress.
Quarterback Brett McDonald, who threw for 163 yards and a touchdown in CK’s 31-18 win over Lincoln last week, continues “to learn” the nuances of the game and his position.
“I think he’s going to have a good game for us,” Keel said.
And the team last week received a lift from running back Monterill Anderson, who rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.
“He came out of nowhere and had a great game last week,” Keel said of Anderson.
Running back Devon Lewis and lineman Morgan Yarber, both of whom are coming off injuries, are expected to play.
For the first time this season, Trojans running back Larry Dixon failed to rush for 100 yards. That was last week in a game against Capital, a 35-7 setback in which Dixon rushed for 91 yards on 22 carries. Yet the senior is still averaging 208.8 rushing yards per game and continues to close in on the West Sound all-time career rushing record, needing 371 yards to break Ryan Cole’s (South Kitsap) record.
The Trojans (2-2, 2-1) have dropped two straight games after opening the season with consecutive wins and the road gets no easier today with Timberline (4-0) on tap. It’s a road game, too, and Timberline, which last week beat Bremerton 54-24, has outscored its opponents 179-65.
Oly’s next home game is Oct. 9 against Yelm.
The Class 2A Eagles, young and shallow in terms of depth, continue to struggle. KSS is winless on the year (0-4) and has been outscored 199-28. The team lost 64-0 last week to North Mason, the second time this season it went scoreless while giving up 60 or more points.
The team hosts Sequim (3-1) at 7 p.m. today at Silverdale Stadium.