SILVERDALE — High school football season kicks off on Thursday night with what has quickly become a marquee early-season matchup.
Bremerton takes the quick drive up 303 to Silverdale Stadium to face Klahowya in a non-league game — the two schools have played two instant classics during the past two years, and both coaches expect another tough contest in 2017.
“I think it’s going to be a tough matchup for us, but it will be a good experience,” Klahowya head coach Dan Ericson said. “They’re typically bigger and faster than anyone we see on our 1A schedule, so it’s always a good non-league game for us.”
The Knights are coming off a 5-5 season and return with plenty of experience. Senior quarterback Max Boekenoogen took over at the helm of the Bremerton Wing T late last year, and guides an offense that returns senior running back Sema’J Cook, senior wide receiver Savante Perrigo and senior TE Troy Saunders, giving the offense plenty of weapons.
On the other side of the field, the Eagles lost 29 players to graduation, but have restocked the talent cupboard thanks to a large freshmen turnout.
Juniors John Hartford and Chase Templeton were locked in a battle for starting quarterback during camp. Whoever wins out will helm a flexible offense that lines up in multiple formations. A trio of slotbacks — Karsten Martinson, Tanner Weaver and Jerikho Presley — will lead the high-flying Eagles offense along with fullback Tyler Vandergriff.
The departures of 1,000-yard rushers Diyamante Hall (Bremerton) and Gabe Wallis (Klahowya) leaves the door open for any number of contributors to step up and produce.
“We know that Klahowya plays very hard, they don’t give up in any game,” Bremerton head coach Paul Theriault said. “We’re expecting a very tough game.”
That has certainly been the case in the past two matchups. Last year, Matthew Hence recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter for a touchdown for Klahowya, but the Knights came roaring back down the field and capped off a winning drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Mikhail Papillion to Michael Barber. Cook ran 18 times for 91 yards for Bremerton while Perrigo hauled in four passes for 82 yards and a score. Quarterback Dylan Zuber led the Eagles with 100 rushing yards and 83 more through the air.
In 2015, the two teams held each other scoreless for four quarters in a defensive stalemate that finally broke in overtime when Klahowya quarterback George Harris hit receiver Dakota McIntire in the endzone for an 11-yard score.
With both teams looking to get started on the right foot in 2017, another memorable game could be in store for these two programs.
“I think in this game, it will come down to which team is best prepared and ready to play,” Theriault said.
Bremerton (0-0) at Klahowya (0-0), Aug. 31, 7:15 p.m., at Silverdale Stadium
Past six matchups
2016: Bremerton 27, Klahowya 24
2015: Klahowya 7, Bremerton 0 (OT)
2014: Bremerton 35, Klahowya 7
2013: Klahowya 35, Bremerton 0
2012: Bremerton 56, Klahowya 13
2011: Bremerton 9, Klahowya 0