Kingston players practiced wrapping up the ball carrier — without doing any actual tackling — during an indoors practice on Aug. 21. Poor air quality has kept teams inside for the most part this season. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Kingston players practiced wrapping up the ball carrier — without doing any actual tackling — during an indoors practice on Aug. 21. Poor air quality has kept teams inside for the most part this season. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Kingston football develops hard-working, positive culture

KINGSTON — Chop wood, carry water.

In a time long forgotten, those were two very important, however mundane-sounding, tasks that every able-bodied member of a community needed to do in order for the group to survive.

It is also the spirit in which the Kingston Buccaneers approach every task in practice — taking ownership of their duties, doing their part to help the team succeed and creating a positive, hard-working culture within the program.

“What we want to be is we want to be a family. We want to give effort and we want to be committed,” head coach Alec Grimm said. “Those are the three core beliefs our kids came up with, and that’s our culture blueprint.”

And there are signs that things are turning around for the Bucs. Despite graduating 15 seniors off last year’s roster, turnout for the fall camp is up — Grimm said he has seen about 40 kids and that attendance has been consistent, a good indicator for the program despite records of 0-10 and 2-8 in the previous two seasons. Grimm said he is still hoping to pull in a few more kids before the season starts.

“The consistency of the numbers is a lot better,” Grimm said. “We’re seeing more kids here on a consistent basis. It still might not be like some of the other teams in the league with 60-plus kids, but we’re working on it and we feel like we’re making improvements on numbers. And [the kids] are seeing it, too.”

Among the key returning players is second-team all-league lineman Garrett Sitting Dog, who will be moving a few yards behind the line of scrimmage this year to fullback. He and the smaller, speedier senior Julian McGinty should form an effective 1-2 punch in the running the game.

There is also some good size and experience on the offensive line. Senior Nickyle Tucker and junior Logan Jacobs will be leading the way up front.

Leif Whalen, who Grimm called a “swiss army knife” because of his ability to play anywhere on the field, has been taking snaps at quarterback, running back and linebacker.

This group will lead the Bucs into 2018, and they hope to have a bounce back year. Kingston has Klahowya and Port Townsend on the schedule early leading in to its slate of league games, starting with Port Angeles in week three. It also has a non-league game against Tenino at the end of the season.

“We want to compete. We want to prove ourselves to everybody in the league,” Grimm said. “What’s behind is behind us — it’s in the past. We’re a new team. We have a group of hard-working individuals who have bought into wanting to get better and wanting to show people we want to get better.”

— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at mkrulish@soundpublishing.com.

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