EAST BREMERTON — As North Kitsap linebacker Cache Holmes closed in on his head coach with the Gatorade cooler in hand, Jeff Weible tried in vain to get out of the way. He eventually tripped and fell backwards and the cold liquid poured down all over him as he lay on his back on the turf.
Despite the chill in the air on a 40 degree night, there were nothing but warm, satisfying feelings for Weible and his Vikings. This young team, which went from struggling to score early this season to a perfect 6-0 Olympic League record, had just won its third league championship in five years with a 28-14 victory over Olympic.
And it certainly was a little extra special for the small senior class who returned this year after seeing Sequim take away their crown last season.
“I’m so happy for our seniors this year to come back and win a league title for them,” Weible said.
North Kitsap used the up-tempo, no-huddle offense they have been phasing in over the past few games, which kept the Trojans two-way players on the field and off balance — and it led to plenty of success on the ground. Taylor Jackson rushed for 259 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries and quarterback Colton Bower added 125 yards and two touchdowns.
“We wanted to go fast and not let them get subs in,” Bower said. “Even tonight you saw it, they were exhausted.”
Even with the new offensive wrinkle, the Vikings didn’t have an easy time against Olympic’s front seven. Scattered within their two first half scoring drives were several that stalled out and one that ended with a turnover. Their lead heading into halftime was just 14-7, which evaporated when Cameron Bailey scored a 9-yard rushing touchdown to open the third quarter.
“Give them credit, they came right out in the second half there, they went down to score and tie it up,” Weible said. “It felt like they had all the momentum and we couldn’t do anything.”
But a break finally came late in the third quarter when Jackson broke away for a 45-yard run that put the Vikings in a first-and-goal situation at the two yard line. Bower powered the ball into the end zone on the quarterback sneak to give his team a 21-14 lead.
Looking for a long drive on their next possession to help put the game away in the fourth quarter, Jackson instead increased the lead to two scores on the first play with a 91-yard touchdown run that saw him sprint up the left sideline and then cross the width of the field to avoid the speedy Olympic defenders.
“We were just trying to run the clock out and then, first play,” Bower said. “I mean, that works.”
Meanwhile, the injury bug bit the Trojans all game long. They lost quarterback Zeke Gillick in the first half after it looked like he re-injured his shoulder. Running back Trent Feistner’s last carry was a 69-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that tied the game at seven. At the time, he’d just crossed over the 100-yard plateau on ten carries.
Bailey also missed some of the second half, as did receiver Adam Johnson. And the team was already missing top running back Clayton Talarico. With the exception of Gillick, all of those players start on the defensive side of the ball as well.
“Next guy up,” said Olympic head coach Sal Quitevis. “I’ve said it all year long, that’s all we can do at this point.”
With the victory, North Kitsap heads into the district round of the playoffs with the No. 1 seed and a chance to host. The Vikings will welcome Fife to Poulsbo next Friday night. Olympic also qualified as the No. 3 seed after Sequim defeated Bremerton, 36-21. The Trojans will head to Franklin Pierce for their district game.
North Kitsap 28, Olympic 14
NK 7 7 7 7 — 28
Oly 0 7 7 0 — 14
North Kitsap — Colton Bower 4 run (Bower kick)
Olympic — Trent Feistner 69 run (Kennedy kick)
North Kitsap — Taylor Jackson 3 run (Bower kick)
Olympic — Cameron Bailey 9 run (Kennedy kick)
North Kitsap — Bower 2 run (Bower kick)
North Kitsap — Jackson 91 run (Bower kick)
Rushing — NK: Jackson 24-259, 2 TDs; Bower 20-125, 2 TDs; Fisher 4-15, Castillo 1-4. Oly: Feistner 10-108, TD; Bailey 12-70, TD; Ruis 9-58, Fanua 5-19, Johnson 1-(-10).
Passing — NK: Bower 3-10-73. Oly: Gillick 4-7-(-1), Turso 1-10-9, INT.