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

All 3 local schools win boys, girls games

Bainbridge, North Kitsap and Kingston all won their opening games this week.… Continue reading

Jonas La Tour of North Kitsap was the league MVP last spring. File Photo
Winter prep sports previews

North Kitsap boys basketball; Kingston wrestling

With the strong winds, Viking quarterback Colton Bower (2) was more effective running the ball in the first half. Here Quinn Knivila- Ruchie (52) and Jesus Mares (53) block for him. Steve Powell/North Kitsap Herald photographs
Wind, rain, Lions knock NK out of playoffs

It’s hard enough to beat the second-ranked team in the state playoffs… Continue reading

Viking quarterback Colton Bower was named MVP, again, of the Olympic League. File Photo
Bower MVP, again; 11 others also honored

Gee, wonder who the Most Valuable Player is in the Olympic League… Continue reading

NK defense shuts out 6th opponent

Vikings blank Shadle Park, host Steilacoom

Marion Stejer, a Kingston senior, dinks the ball for a point against Lindbergh. Steve Powell/Kingston Community News photos
Kingston goes 1-1 at district tourney

The Kingston girls volleyball team easily won its first contest at the… Continue reading

The moment North Kitsap realized it had won and would advance to state. Steve Powell/North Kitsap Herald photos
NK advances to state in girls volleyball

After qualifying for state last week, North Kitsap’s girls volleyball team went… Continue reading

Colton Bower. File Photo
N. Kitsap hosts state playoff game Saturday

14th seeded Shadle Park will face No. 3 seed Vikings

The North Kitsap boys basketball team celebrates after pulling off an improbable comeback in the semifinals in the 2A state tournament against Lynden. (File photo)
Krulish: A look back at my 4 years in Kitsap

After a little over four years covering high school sports, and occasionally… Continue reading

Colton Bower’s 299-yard, six touchdown performance on Friday night helped him break the North Kitsap record for passing yards in a season. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Bower sets NK passing record in win over Kingston

Colton Bower is one of the last players you’ll ever hear talking… Continue reading

North Kitsap’s Maddie Pryde tips a shot past two Bainbridge defenders. The Vikings defeated the Spartans on Tuesday night to split their season series and share the top spot in the Olympic League. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
NK beats BHS to share top spot in Olympic League

The North Kitsap volleyball team never forgot about its first loss of… Continue reading

Review file photo 
The Bainbridge HS girls cross country team, shown here taking off during a league meet at Battle Point Park, took home the Olympic League championship last week.
Spartan girls XC win Olympic League title

The Spartans girls cross country team cooked up the same recipe for… Continue reading