North Kitsap’s defense holds to give Vikings narrow win over Bainbridge
By Jeff Graham, Kitsap Sun,2023-09-30
BAINBRIDGE ISLAND — It takes a resilient high school football team to overcome an injury to its starting quarterback in the middle of a game.
That’s exactly the situation North Kitsap found itself in Friday on the road against Bainbridge in what turned out to be one of the most competitive Olympic League 2A contests in years.
Watching senior quarterback Cole Edwards depart late in the second quarter with a shoulder injury, the Vikings made a 10-point halftime lead stand up by holding the Spartans to a lone field goal over the final two quarters in a 23-16 victory.
“We made enough plays to get the job done,” said North Kitsap head coach Jeff Weible, whose team improved to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in league play. “I tell the kids, ‘I don’t care what we win by.' As long as we have more points on the board, then we did what we needed to do to win.”
Bainbridge (4-1, 2-1) suffered its first defeat of the season. The Spartans turned the ball over four times and had a botched snap on a punt, but still found themselves in position to potentially tie the game or take the lead late.
“I think we picked the wrong night to be loose with the ball,” Bainbridge head coach Dan Schoonmaker said. “It’s been our strength.”
Bainbridge fumbled the ball on the opening play from scrimmage, leading to the game’s first score. North Kitsap went up 7-0 just 57 seconds into the game when senior receiver Logan Sloman evaded several Bainbridge defenders on a 16-yard touchdown catch. Bainbridge tied the game midway through the first quarter on a 2-yard scoring run by junior quarterback Jack Grant.
North Kitsap’s offense kept churning as the Vikings took a 23-7 lead late in the second quarter following a 7-yard touchdown run by junior running back Carter Dungy, a 10-yard touchdown catch by junior receiver Lelond Anderson and a 35-yard field goal by sophomore Andrew Knott.
“We had a chance to step on their throats and put it away,” Weible said, “and we didn’t.”
Edwards’ injury after being tackled to the ground with roughly three minutes left in the second quarter halted North Kitsap’s momentum. He left the game after going 14 of 17 for 166 yards and two passing touchdowns.
When Bainbridge pulled within 23-13 with 17 seconds before halftime on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Grant to senior tight end Logan Sweeny, it felt like the Spartans found a lifeline heading into the second half.
Despite North Kitsap’s offense being limited, the defense proved up for the challenge. Besides allowing a field goal midway through the third quarter, Bainbridge came up empty on five other second half drives. On the Spartans’ final possession, North Kitsap forced an incompletion on 4th-and-1 from midfield.
“Defense played awesome in the second half,” said Weible, who also credited sophomore Dawsyn Anderson for taking over at quarterback after Edwards’ injury.
“We got the win, that’s all that matters,” added Sloman, who had an interception in the fourth quarter to help maintain North Kitsap’s lead.
North Kitsap, which has won the past three Olympic League titles and placed second at state in 2022, is scheduled to host Kingston in Week 6.
Schoonmaker, who coached at North Kitsap last season before taking the Bainbridge job, said the Spartans are still in good shape moving forward. As the lone 3A team in the Olympic League, Bainbridge likely needs to win out in order to remain eligible for a district playoff berth. The Spartans face North Mason in Week 6.
“We’re only going to get better,” Schoonmaker said. “I still don’t think we’ve played our best game.”
Bremerton wins again, set for tough stretch
Bremerton’s undefeated start to the season continued Friday as the Knights shut out North Mason on the road, 63-0. Bremerton, which led 42-0 at halftime, improved to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in Olympic League 2A play.
Bremerton’s schedule is about to get more difficult. The Knights host Port Angeles (3-2) in Week 6 before facing North Kitsap and Bainbridge on the road in Weeks 7-8.
North Mason, which fell to 1-4, 1-2, held a jersey retirement ceremony at halftime for John Fullington, who had a short career in the NFL after playing offensive line at Washington State.
Skids continue for several teams
After winning its first two games of the season, Olympic’s recent struggles continued with a 48-26 loss at Port Angeles. The Trojans (2-3) fell to 0-3 in Olympic League competition and most likely saw their playoff hopes dashed in the process.
Kingston dropped its fourth consecutive game, 52-6 against Sequim. Like Olympic, the Buccaneers (1-4) are also winless in league play at 0-3.
Central Kitsap’s losing skid reached four games after a 21-7 home loss against Capital. The Cougars (1-4) are 0-3 in South Sound Conference 3A play.
On Thursday, South Kitsap proved no match for Emerald Ridge in a 55-0 shutout loss. The Wolves (1-4 overall, 1-4 in South Puget Sound League 4A) have lost three straight.
This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: North Kitsap’s defense holds to give Vikings narrow win over Bainbridge