Isaiah Kahana breaks free for a 32-yard run in the first half against River Ridge. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Isaiah Kahana breaks free for a 32-yard run in the first half against River Ridge. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Isaiah Kahana carries North Kitsap past River Ridge into the state tournament

The senior back had 40 carries for 225 yards.

POULSBO — The Vikings found themselves in unfamiliar territory on Friday night in their district playoff game against River Ridge.

They trailed 22-12 at halftime and Hawks quarterback Tomasi Masu was giving them fits on defense. Meanwhile, the offense had stalled a couple of times in the red zone, including a fumble inside the 10-yard line.

But the defense pitched a shutout in the second half, thanks in part to three interceptions by Blake Wetzsteon, and Isaiah Kahana carried the offense on his shoulders, picking up 225 yards on an eye-popping 40 carries. North Kitsap scored 21 unanswered points to grab a 33-22 victory and punch its ticket to the 2A state tournament.

“It was by far the most gratifying win I’ve ever had as a coach,” North Kitsap head coach Jeff Weible said.

Kahana was an unstoppable force all night long out of the backfield. On carry after carry, he continued to deliver punishment to a sizable River Ridge front seven. He was rarely stopped for a loss of yards and was able to keep his feet moving after initial contact to pick up extra yards.

“I’m so proud of that kid,” Weible said. “He’s come a long way in this football program.”

Even at the end of the game, when North Kitsap took nearly eight minutes off the clock on a long, fourth quarter drive, Kahana still looked fresh as Weible kept calling his number and he kept answering with three-, four- and five-yard gains.

“I was tired at some points, but I knew I had to keep it going for my team,” Kahana said. “If it wasn’t for the o-line, it wouldn’t have happened.”

But it wasn’t all sunshine and blue skies for the Vikings. After a strong start — on the second play of the game, Riley Solis took an Andrew Blackmore screen pass 59 yards inside the 10-yard line, and Kahana punched it in from there — the situation quickly became dire.

Manu ran wild on the North Kitsap defense in the first half. The 170-pound southpaw scored untouched on a 21-yard run and also broke free for an 81-yard touchdown in the second quarter. His big play capability was on display again as he connected with receiver Lamar Campbell for a 52-yard aerial strike. He finished the game with 198 rushing yards and 71 passing.

“That No. 1, he’s the best football player I’ve seen in a long time … he was a one-man wrecking crew,” Weible said.

River Ridge led 22-9 late in the second quarter, but Luca Laura hit the second of his two field goals to cut the deficit to ten just before the half. With the Hawks getting the ball back to start the third quarter, the Vikings knew they needed a turnover, or at the very least, a defensive stop, to have a chance to get back into the game.

“We wanted to prove to the fans, and everyone, that wasn’t Viking football,” Kahana said.

On the second play of the second half, they got it. Wetzsteon was able to jump a wheel route for an interception. At the 10-yard line, the Vikings totally fooled the Hawks defense as they faked a handoff to Kahana and John Jones swept the edge untouched for a touchdown.

“I was covering that wheel, and I knew the quarterback was going to throw it to him because I was his hot receiver the whole game,” Wetzsteon said. “So I just sat on it. It was a bad ball, I thought I was going to drop it.”

North Kitsap took the lead on Wetzsteon’s second interception of the game. Josh Fisher got his hands on Manu’s pass and Wetzsteon grabbed it and ran 48 yards to the house. Wetzsteon was also a factor on offense, catching four passes for 79 yards.

Kahana scored his second touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter, running wide open across the defense as Blackmore connected with him for a 4-yard score.

The inaugural seeding committee will decide North Kitsap’s seed in the state playoffs on Sunday. If they are in the top eight, it means a first-round home game next Friday night in Poulsbo.

North Kitsap 33, River Ridge 22

RR 7 15 0 0 — 22

NK 6 6 14 7 — 33

First Quarter

NK — Isaiah Kahana 7 run (kick failed)

RR — Tomasi Manu 21 run (Miller kick)

Second Quarter

NK — Luca Laura 23 field goal

RR — Lamar Campbell 52 pass from Manu (Miller kick)

RR — Manu 81 run (Owens run)

NK — Laura 20 field goal

Third Quarter

NK — John Jones 10 run (Laura kick)

NK — Blake Wetzsteon 48 interception return (Laura kick)

Fourth Quarter

NK — Kahana 4 pass from Andrew Blackmore (Laura kick)

Individual Stats

Rushing — NK: Kahana 40-225, TD; Jones 2-12, TD; Solis 3-11, Williams 2-9, Blackmore 4-7, Bell 1-(-1). RR: Manu 16-198, 2 TD; Hunkin 9-31, Owens 2-5, Trinidad 1-2.

Passing — NK: Blackmore 8-20-153, TD. RR: Manu 5-15-71, TD, 3 INT; J. Larson 0-1-0.

Receiving — NK: Wetzsteon 4-79, Solis 2-61, Kahana 2-13, TD. RR: Campbell 2-54, TD; Trinidad 1-11, Owens 1-6, Eder 1-0.

— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.

More in Sports

Nick Zeller-Singh
Why Seattle is a perfect spot for 2026 World Cup

Seattle is one of 16 locations in North America to host the… Continue reading

David Musselman worked as a security guard and in customer service for the Seattle Seahawks for nearly seven seasons. Courtesy Photos
Poulsbo firefighter’s path to Seahawks security

First in a series on locals involved with professional sports Dave Musselman… Continue reading

Nicholas Zeller-Singh/Kitsap News Group photos
Kitsap County residents have seen a spike in participation numbers of all ages since the Seattle Kraken started.
Kraken spark more interest in hockey in Kitsap County

The Seattle Kraken pro team has been a hit in Kitsap County,… Continue reading

Salix Wartes-Kahl of NK placed second to lead the Vikings at state. Steve Powell/North Kitsap Herald photos
NK gets 6 Top 5 finishes at 2A state

Salix Wartes-Kahl had the best finish for North Kitsap at the state… Continue reading

Senior catcher Colton Bower was a big reason for NK’s success this season. He will be on scholarship to play for Washington State University next year.
NK baseball stunned in 1st round at state

North Kitsap’s baseball team won over 20 games and only lost a… Continue reading

Makayla Stockman winds up to pitch for the Vikings. Steve Powell/File Photos
NK girls make it to state the hard way

Competitions took place last weekend to see who would advance to the… Continue reading

Pitcher Noah Sorensen moved the ball around and struck out a number of Pirates.
NK wins district title, on to state

Kingston wins 1 before being eliminated

NK's Angel Chavez (8), a junior forward, and Jackson Reeves (12) rush back to defend to keep Clover Park from scoring a breakaway goal. Steve Powell/North Kitsap Herald photos
NK wins in soccer, softball

North Kitsap is still alive in the District 2/3 2A boys soccer… Continue reading

Laine Miller of NK tossed the discus over 142 feet to win the discus. Steve Powell/North Kitsap Herald photos
NK boys, girls win home track meet

Whether it’s for first place, or last, or somewhere in between, high… Continue reading

Kingston sophomore Peau Tameilau (33) slides safety into home plate as catcher Colton Bower of North Kitsap awaits the throw. Steve Powell/North Kitsap Herald photos
NK comes back to beat Kingston

For a little while, it looked like Kingston might upset rival North… Continue reading

The free fishing derby put on by the Lions Club is Saturday in Poulsbo. Courtesy Photo
Free fishing derby Saturday in Poulsbo

The Poulsbo Noon Lions Club is hosting a “Hooked on Fish Derby”… Continue reading

Colton Bower of NK dives safely back to first base after hitting a single in the first inning. Zach Duffy of BHS applies the tag. Steve Powell/North Kitsap Herald
NK falls to league-leading Bainbridge

You can bet the North Kitsap Viking outfielders are going to be… Continue reading