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 mkrulish@soundpublishing.com. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.

More in Sports

Ginger Silfies scored a 7.0 for her floor routine in the meet with Shorewood and Shorecrest. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
North Kitsap wins meet with Shorewood and Shorecrest

The Vikings are eyeing a solid postseason run

Marissa Nemeth is the 2018-2019 Olympic League champion. Nemeth knocked down 487 pins over three games for a 162 average. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Nemeth, Olympic grab league championship

SILVERDALE — Klahowya may have ended the regular season on top of… Continue reading

Noelani Barreith flies through the lane against Port Angeles. Barreith finished with 24 points, four assists, five steals and two blocks. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
North Kitsap topples Port Angeles, 69-63, to move into a tie for first place

The Vikings received strong offensive performances from Noelani Barreith, Raelee Moore, Alicia Goetz and Maddie Pruden

Kingston’s Tim Gallagher swims to victory in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 52.32. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Kingston edges out Olympic to take sole possession of first place in league standings

The Bucs now have a one-win lead over the Trojans with two meets remaining

South Kitsap head coach John Callaghan celebrates with the game ball commemorating his 300th career win. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
John Callaghan gets win No. 300 over Bellarmine

South Kitsap took down the Lions 36-30 in a defensive duel

SK bowlers knock off undefeated Puyallup, sit tied atop SPSL

PORT ORCHARD — The South Kitsap bowling team capped off an excellent… Continue reading

<em>Brandon Barron (4) attempts to slice between two Bremerton defenders during a Jan. 15 matchup</em>			 Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group
Barron’s big night boosts Olympic to 78-55 win over Bremerton

Olympic’s senior point guard scored 30 points on an 11-for-12 shooting performance

Kobe McMillian was unstoppable in his team’s win over Central Kitsap. McMillian was 12-for-18 from the floor and scored 29 points. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
McMillian torches Central Kitsap for 29 in a 77-53 Vikings victory

North Kitsap outscored the Cougars 23-10 in the second quarter

James Sanchez of Central Kitsap was named Swimmer of the Meet. He won the 200-yard individual medley in 1:58.87. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Olympic finishes second, Central Kitsap third at 2019 Swimvitational

The Trojans were tied with Gig Harbor entering the final race

Most Read