FOOTBALL | Taylor named as Wolves’ starting signal-caller

Senior will lead South Kitsap in opener against Cougars

A former Gig Harbor and Peninsula High School quarterback is expected to lead the Wolves this season.

South Kitsap coach Gavin Kralik said Jake Taylor will start Sept. 4 against Central Kitsap at Kitsap Bank Stadium.

“Jake’s got a phenomenal throwing ability,” Kralik said. “He’s just got a great gift there. His understanding of the offense and fundamentals have improved a ton. That to go with his great arm have kind of separated him at that position.”

The 6-foot-4, 206-pound Taylor said he moved in with his mother, who lives in Port Orchard, last year. Taylor, who is from the Eatonville area, attended Peninsula as a freshman and Gig Harbor as a sophomore and played at both schools. He was sidelined last year because of shoulder surgery.

Taylor was entrenched in a battle with classmate Cole Craner when practice began Aug. 19, but moved into the starting lineup this week.

“If somebody’s going to beat me out, they’re going to beat me out fair and square because I’m a born and true competitor,” Taylor said.

He will lead Kralik’s spread, no-huddle offense that is different than others he has run before. Taylor said that running backs and receivers used to joke with him at other schools about the amount of work they put in, particularly running, compared with the quarterbacks. Taylor, who immersed himself in studying Kralik’s system during the offseason, said that is not the case with the Wolves.

And he won’t complain about it.

“You’re staying uptempo, you’re yelling, shouting and moving guys,” Taylor said. “I couldn’t have asked for something more fun.”

While the offense runs at a torrid pace, South’s defense, which surrendered more than 40 points in four contests en route to a 3-7 record last year, is working to keep up.

“It’s hard,” Kralik said. “I think when you play fast — if an offense can execute fast — it puts a lot of stress on a defense. I feel like we’re going to be able to play faster than any team that our defense will face all year. I believe by practicing against our offense the games are going to slow down for them and it’s going to be a real advantage.”

Kralik is known for producing prolific offenses — Bay Area Christian, which ran more than 80 plays in a game multiple times, produced 705 points in 14 games last season in his lone year there. But Kralik said his desire is to model his defense in a similar fashion.

“I think we’re going to be as multiple on defense as we are on offense,” he said. “We’re going to try and put a lot of stress on teams in terms of what they’re going to have to prepare for on both sides of the football.”

Kralik also likes the talent on that side of the ball, led by senior defensive tackle Elijiah Griffin.

“He’s a phenomenal defensive tackle,” Kralik said. “I think he’s a big-time player and I think he’s definitely going to play at the next level.”

But he believes the talent on that side of the ball extends beyond Griffin. Kralik named junior defensive end Nolan Van Amen and seniors Mikey Garcia (linebacker) and Logan Guerrero (safety) as other potential impact players.

“I see a lot of standout players who are unselfish kids and are going to have this defense playing at a high level when it counts the most,” he said.

Those players and others will receive one more test — a scrimmage Aug. 28 at Lakes — before the opener. The Wolves also will compete against Steilacoom during that scrimmage.

“It’s the last bit of evaluating our kids and getting better at technique,” Kralik said.


• Kralik hoped to practice on the new artificial turf in the days leading up to the opener. But he said the team might not practice more than once there as work on the project is completed. Despite that, Kralik said he is not concerned.

“Our kids have played on turf,” he said. “I don’t think getting used to the field is a big deal.”