North Kitsap humbled Bainbridge in the most anticipated game of the season yet, defeating the Spartans 23-16 Sept. 29.
“I tell the kids I don’t care how much we win by,” NK coach Jeff Weible said. “It’s not a pretty game but whoever wants it more will get it at the end.”
The Spartans fumbled on the first play of the game, and the Vikings recovered in the red zone. Viking Logan Sloman turned a screen pass into a 13-yard touchdown a couple of plays later.
The Vikings then had a chance to boost the score but Andrew Knott missed a 26-yard field goal.
The Spartans took advantage of the mistake when quarterback Jack Grant ran for 75 yards to the Viking 11-yard line. Grant powered into the end zone a few plays later to tie the game with 5:23 left in the first quarter.
But Viking Carter Dungy responded with a 26-yard touchdown run to make it 14-7.
Bainbridge fumbled the following drive, giving the Vikings great field position.
“We picked the wrong night to play loose with the ball,” said first-year Spartan coach Dan Schoonmaker, who was an assistant coach with NK previously. We played a team that came and hit. We (some on his staff) helped build that team so we knew what we were coming into.”
Knott avenged himself with a 35-yard field goal to up the lead to 17-7.
The Spartans failed to convert on 4th down and 1 yard to go at midfield with nine minutes left in the first half.
Viking Lelond Anderson fought through a pair of defenders later in the drive to make it 23-7.
“We had a chance to step on their throats and put it away but we didn’t,” Weible said. “We missed a field goal but I don’t care as long as we got more points than them.”
As the Vikings were slowly creeping away, NK quarterback Cole Edwards got injured. “We are always one injury away but it’s the next guy up,” Weible said.
Dawsyn Anderson took over at QB, but the Vikings struggled to move the chains the rest of the night.
Bainbridge cut into the lead just before halftime when Spartan Logan Sweeny caught a pass from Grant to make it 23-13.
The Spartans kicked a field goal with seven minutes left in the third quarter to trail just 23-16. But both defenses dominated the rest of the contest.
Even though the Vikings continued to turn the ball over or punt to the Spartans, the defense held strong in the fourth quarter. Sloman picked up an interception deep in Viking territory to end what could have been a game-tying drive.
With 1:39 left and a 4th and 2 situation, Schoonmaker called his final timeout, knowing it was the last chance for Bainbridge.
On defense, safety Sloman had an idea. “We went into the huddle, and I went up and told them it’s going to be a slant.”
Sloman lined up at cornerback and forced Grant to hold onto the ball. Once Grant passed to Isaac Sellers, Sloman broke up the reception.
“The defense played awesome,” Weible said. “I told them at halftime they have to win this game for us.”
Schoonmaker said: “This is the worst we are going to be. Some of the message was we played one of the best teams in the state, and we hung with them.”