POULSBO — The calendar may read June, but autumn was in the air on a cool, cloudy and damp Wednesday night at North Kitsap as two football teams expected to be among the area’s best in a few months went at it in a scrimmage.
Both the Vikings and their opponent, Central Kitsap, took the opportunity to get in some live contact before summer hits and get a look and some of their new faces in action.
Colton Bower, who will be a sophomore next season, took the first snaps at quarterback for the Vikings. He figures to duel all summer with soon-to-be junior Skyler Keilbart for the signal caller’s job.
Bower last saw the football field against Olympic in his team’s regular season finale when he broke his leg making a tackle. Despite that, he was a first-team all-state linebacker and figures to be an important part of the team this fall.
“I haven’t really gotten that many reps at quarterback, it was the first time out so it felt pretty good,” Bower said. “It was good to see the offense against someone other than ourselves.”
Bower and his teammates struck for the first big play of the scrimmage when he connected with receiver Erik Burchill on a long pass that went for a touchdown.
Bower’s speed and athleticism was also on display, but he knows he has to get more comfortable as a thrower if he wants to really stake a claim on the starting job.
“My reads — not the best tonight,” Bower said.
Boaz Adams, a senior next year, and Cache Holmes, who will be a junior, both got plenty of carries at running back. While there will likely be a few new wrinkles in the offense, North Kitsap is still a wing-T team at heart and whoever lines up in the backfield is sure to see plenty of work.
“I loved every second of it,” Holmes said. “It’s awesome going out there and crackin’ heads.”
On the other side of the field, Central Kitsap showed by their defensive unit should rank as one of the best around this season. The Cougars were without star defensive back Nigal Hardee, but he’ll be a huge factor in the fall along with linebacker Colton Van Dijk and defensive lineman Ty Callao-Zeeman. In fact, all but one defensive starter returns next season.
After giving up the big play to North Kitsap on the first series, the defense really woke up.
“The defense, I figured they would do well and they settled down after that first series,” said Central Kitsap head coach Mark Keel “They just haven’t had any real contact. It’s been all touch and tag and no pads.”
With that, it will be interesting to see how the offense takes shape. The Cougars have a lot of production to replace with the graduation of Alex Refilong (1,801 yards and 20 touchdowns) and dual-threat quarterback Elijah McGee.
“We lost two very important pieces,” Keel said.
Josh Flaugher got the first nod at quarterback and he connected with receiver Zachary Webb twice during Central Kitsap’s best series of the evening.
Returning running back Joshua Willis showed good speed out of the backfield, but the Cougars also featured some younger players that impressed, including freshman Cooper Hall, who had the longest run of the day.