South Kitsap head coach Dan Ericson addresses his team during training camp. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

South Kitsap head coach Dan Ericson addresses his team during training camp. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Backed by coaching talent, South Kitsap hopes for improved grid season

Dan Ericson debuts as Wolves’ new football coach

PORT ORCHARD — Dan Ericson is getting a lesson in time and space management in his first year as South Kitsap High’s head football coach.

Ericson spent eight years as head coach at Klahowya, a 1A school where he generally had between 45 and 65 players. With a smaller staff and a smaller roster, he was used to being in the middle of all the action and could bounce between groups easily during practice.

On Day One of fall camp, Ericson had 114 players show up and that number has continued to increase. In the middle of last week, the count was 122 and he expected to pick up a few more ninth graders as school gets underway. Making sure such a large group of players have space on the field and are able to stay engaged is a big task for any coach.

“It’s professional growth for me,” Ericson said.

Fortunately, Ericson has a veteran staff of assistants to lean on as well — former head coaches D.J. Sigurdson and Eric Canton, longtime coach and teacher Joey Dame, baseball coaches Marcus Logue (also a former football assistant) and Kevin Darcey, assistant principal Casey Ogan and former SK all-state receiver Dustin Booth. Keith Langholff, who worked alongside Ericson at Klahowya, and Ryan Lund, who is heavily involved with youth football in Port Orchard, round out the coaching staff.

What’s unique about this collection of coaches, aside from the astounding amount of experience they offer, is that nearly all the assistants work in the district. Several of them work at the high school.

“It’s a great staff — unbelievable,” Ericson said. “Nine coaches are in the building, which is pretty unheard of in this day and age.”

They’re also the next group looking to turn around the fortunes of the South Kitsap football program and restore it to its former glory. The Wolves were at one point one of the most consistent big-school teams in the state.

Of course, it won’t happen overnight, a fact that is not lost on this year’s senior class. Rebuilding a program from the foundation up takes time, but it seems they have bought into that concept. The seniors have been involved in various activities, including a “signing day” for middle schoolers joining the high school program.

“’Be the change,’ that’s what we’re all about,” senior fullback Scott Cmelo said.

On the field, it’s back to the basics. The Wolves are a big, physical team and should have much more success running the ball with a solid, experienced line that includes seniors Jacob Johnson and Zowie Pangelinan leading the way for several big backs — Cmelo, Josh Connors, Raymond Rodgers and Richard Nolan.

Hezekiah Moore, who returns for his senior season at quarterback, will have plenty of targets to choose from when it’s time to throw. Junior Sam Canton was one of several players recruited from the baseball team and state champion hurdler Deyondre Davis has returned to the team as well. The receiving corps also includes senior Taryn Krumsick and junior Logan Inouye.

Moore, who never had played quarterback before last season, had to learn on the fly with South Puget Sound League pass rushers bearing down on him, but he has settled in well at his new position.

“It’s a lot of information to take in because I have to know what everyone is doing and where they’re going to be,” Moore said. “But at the same time, I enjoy responsibility. The bigger the task, the harder I work.”

The Wolves play in one of the state’s toughest leagues, and teams such as Puyallup, Graham-Kapowsin and Sumner are regularly among the top-10 4A teams in Washington. But the players and coaches are optimistic about being much more competitive this year.

And, yes, they want to get into the win column for the first time since 2016.

Those planning to attend the Sept. 13 home opener are advised to arrive early. South Kitsap will have a dedication ceremony before the game in renaming the athletic field in honor of former head coach Ed Fisher.

Head coach: Dan Ericson (first year)

2018 record: 0-10

Key players: Sam Canton, jr., WR/DB; Scott Cmelo, sr., FB/LB; Josh Connors, sr., FB/LB; Deyondre Davis, sr., WR/DB; Logan Inouye, jr., WR/DB; Jacob Johnson, sr., OL/DL; Taryn Krumsick, sr., WR/DB; Benjamin Miller, jr., RB/LB; Hezekiah Moore, sr., QB; Dylan Murray, jr., RB/DB; Richard Nolan, jr., RB/LB/OL; Raymond Rodgers, jr., FB/OL; Zowie Pangelian, sr., NT/OL.

2019 Schedule

Sept. 6, 7 p.m. at Sumner

Sept. 13, 7 p.m., Rogers

Sept. 20, 7 p.m., at Curtis

Sept. 27, 7 p.m., Emerald Ridge

Oct. 4, 7 p.m., at Bellarmine Prep

Oct. 11, 7 p.m., Graham-Kapowsin

Oct. 17, 7 p.m., at Puyallup

Oct. 25, 7 p.m., Olympia

Nov. 1, 7 p.m., Battle Ground

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