PORT ORCHARD — The running backs may have had the spotlight during Friday night’s game between North Kitsap and South, but the special teams stole the show.
The two top running backs in the Narrows League, the Vikings’ James Smith and the Wolves’ Victor Valle, met when the Vikings faced the undefeated Wolves, and neither disappointed; each scored three touchdowns and rushed for more than 150 yards.
But coaches for both teams say that it was the little things that led South Kitsap to a 31-22 win over their rivals from the north.
“Field position had a lot to do with it,” said South Kitsap coach D.J. Sigurdson, who saw kick returner Nick Anderson tear off a 50-yard return to open the game.
North Kitsap coach Jerry Parrish agreed, especially, he noted, in a pair of punts that were not caught and rolled deep into the Vikings’ territory.
“We should have caught the ball and did not,” he said.
The excellent return by the Wolves’ Anderson led to a touchdown when Valle scampered up the left side of the field for an 18-yard score.
Six minutes later, the Wolves got the ball back on an interception by defensive back Cody McCulley, and converted with a 35-yard field goal by Hiram Davis.
But North also moved the ball well, marching down the field on their next possession of the game with the help of two 14-yard passes by Jared Prince and several long runs by Smith, who scored a 1-yard touchdown run to put North within three points.
North took the lead in the second quarter when Smith burst free on a third-and-short play and ran untouched for 75 yards for the score.
The 14-10 lead stood for only a few minutes, as South Kitsap drove 65 yards for a touchdown, which came when Valle, stopped at the line of scrimmage, dove his way into the end zone on a second effort.
South’s lead was 17-14.
They extended that lead to 23-14 late in the second half, when quarterback Josh Fullington — who was under pressure from Viking defenders most of the game — faked a pass, saw a brief opening in the North Kitsap defense, and weaved his way 19 yards for a rushing touchdown.
The Wolves carried the 23-14 lead into the half.
The Vikings had moved the ball well against the South Kitsap defense in the first half (Smith had 153 yards), and they continued to do so when the second half opened.
Their half-opening drive, which started on the 20-yard line, went 47 yards before SK defenders Albert Jenkins and Nick Anderson stopped a run on fourth down, giving the Wolves the ball.
South converted a few minutes later, but only after the 6-foot-6 Fullington, rolling out and shaking off a pair of North Kitsap defenders, hit McCulley for a 45-yard-pass.
Five plays later, Valle scored his third touchdown of the game with a 4-yard run, and South had extended its lead to 31-14 seconds before the third quarter arrived.
The Vikings scored on a drive later in the fourth quarter when Smith bulled his way for a 2-yard score of his own. A two-point conversion made it 31-22, but North’s last drive of the game started on its own 14 after a punt was not returned, and they couldn’t turn it into a touchdown with the clock winding down.
The Wolves’ (5-0, 4-0 in league) coach Sigurdson said that North was a difficult opponent to host.
“That offense is frustrating,” he said. “They had the ball for so many plays.”
Defensive lineman Albert Jenkins, who had a pair of sacks on the evening, agreed.
“It was tough to defend against them,” he said. “Their running back is fast, and their line blocks really good.”
Parrish, whose Vikings (2-3, 2-2 in league) will host Port Angeles on Friday during homecoming, said he was more than happy with the team’s performance.
“It was one of the better games we played this year,” he said, “and it’ll be a springboard to better things this week.”
He said, “The kids did something they haven’t shown is in a long time… they played better and better instead of playing well and then tailing off.”
South Kitsap, Stats
North Kitsap – 6 8 0 8 – 22
South Kitsap – 10 13 8 0 – 31
SK – Valle 18 run (Davis kick)
SK – Davis 35 kick
NK – Smith 1 run (kick blocked)
NK – Smith 75 run (2-pt. conversion good)
SK — Valle 2 run (Davis kick)
SK — Fullington 19 run (kick no good)
SK — Valle 4 run (2-pt. conversion good)
NK — Smith 2 run (2-pt. conversion good)