Krulish: Plenty of drama left to come on the gridiron this fall

It’s hard to believe there are just a few weeks left in the 2019 football season, but the calendar has flipped to October and teams around the West Sound are deep into their league schedules.

Through five weeks, we’ve already seen some tremendous games and individual performances.

Central Kitsap was the talk of the region in week one as its tremendous defense gave up just a field goal on a short field against a high-powered Olympic team in the Battle of Bucklin Hill. Then, South Kitsap stole the spotlight with an emotional 31-17 win over Rogers with legendary head coach Ed Fisher in the house.

North Kitsap and Bremerton engaged in an incredible game in week four in which the Vikings erased a 21-7 first-quarter deficit. It was a showcase for some of the Olympic League’s best young talent in Colton Bower, Jayden Quenga and Junior Newman — players who will thrill us for the next couple of seasons. That was the week after North Kitsap freshman Diego DeLuna kicked three field goals to lift the Vikings to victory over Sequim, the only league team to beat them last season.

On Friday night, Olympic’s Trent Feistner had one of the best rushing performances in recent history, going off for 333 yards and two touchdowns against Port Angeles.

The Olympic League, in particular, is shaping up to have a tremendous finish. There are only three district playoff spots available to the league this year and no clear favorite, though four teams seem to have separated from the rest of the pack.

Olympic currently sits in first place with a 3-0 league record but North Kitsap and Bremerton both have a game in hand while Sequim is 2-1, having lost to North Kitsap.

The Trojans have three of their toughest tests still ahead — Sequim, Bremerton and North Kitsap — but that also gives them a greater degree of control over their destiny. Unfortunately, the team is pretty banged up right now. Malcolm Dewalt, who is one of their best athletes, is likely lost for the season and quarterback Zeke Gillick is week-to-week, though there is hope he can return. The good news is No. 1 running back Clayton Talarico could be back as soon as this week.

Bremerton has looked impressive in its two league games despite going 1-1. The Knights made a few mistakes at crucial times in the second half against North Kitsap, but they had no trouble with North Mason. They have enough playmakers to attack from any part of their Wing-T formation, both running and throwing the football, which has made them difficult to shut down so far. They should get a boost from their next two games — at Port Angeles and at Kingston — before coming home for a showdown with Olympic on Oct. 25. Needless to say, there will be plenty on the line in that game.

And then there’s North Kitsap, long the class of the Olympic League. The Vikings are quite young this season and going through plenty of growing pains that should pay off in future seasons. They have already dispatched Sequim and Bremerton, and should certainly be favored in their next three league games against Kingston, North Mason and Port Angeles.

The Vikings close the regular season Nov. 1 at Olympic. It’s certainly within the realm of possibility — though by no means a guarantee — that the Vikings will be playing to tie the Trojans for first place. If that turns out to be the case, the Bremerton-Sequim game that night could serve as a de facto play-in game because both teams would have at least two losses in that scenario. Of course, if there are any upsets during that span, then all bets are off.

The playoff chase is also on for Central Kitsap, currently 2-1 and in a three-way tie for third place with Gig Harbor and Capital, both of which are still ahead on the Cougars’ schedule. There’s no doubt that their defense is one of the best around but the offense hasn’t kept pace without starting quarterback Josh Flaugher and top receiver Jason Almonte. Central Kitsap has just three field goals and one touchdown in the past three games.

Might there be a third game with huge playoff implications on Nov. 1? Only time will tell.

Grab the popcorn, don’t forget your umbrella and buckle up. We’re in for a wild ride on the gridiron over the next few weeks.

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

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