BREMERTON — With four games remaining on its league schedule, the North Kitsap Vikings football team is already in control of its own destiny.
A 49-6 victory over Olympic (0-2, 1-3) on Sept. 21 moves their record to just 2-0 in 2A League play, but with only one other undefeated team left, North Kitsap (2-0, 4-0) simply needs to win out to capture the title.
Of course, that is much easier said than done. The road to a championship is not exactly paved with smooth stones, rather it is littered with obstacles in the form of teams that will come to play their best each week against the Vikings.
Speaking after the win over Olympic, senior running back and defensive back Joshua Stackhouse said he and the Vikings have to be prepared for a battle every week and play as if it is their last game to fend off any potential challengers for the top spot.
“As long as we continue to do what we do — work together as a team and strive to play our best every game — I think we will continue to keep winning,” said Stackhouse.
Such focus was on display against Olympic last week. With a showdown against Bremerton looming on the horizon, North Kitsap could have easily taken for granted its talented, but inexperienced, opponent.
Fears of falling victim to the “trap game” mentality were put to rest quickly when quarterback Andrew Blackmore threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kai Warren on the first of five consecutive scoring drives for North Kitsap.
“Our coaches are always saying ‘deliver the first punch’ and we kind of live by that mentality,” said senior running back Dax Solis, who rushed for 114 yards against Olympic. “If we score the first touchdown, we always start rolling, and when our offense has a head of steam, it’s pretty hard to stop.”
And roll they did. Solis scored three rushing touchdowns in the first half and Blackmore added another on a quarterback keeper as the Vikings held a 42-6 advantage by halftime. Eight different players would register at least one carry for North Kitsap, and four players rushed for at least 40 yards.
While Solis is best known for his power running — albeit with pretty good foot speed as well — North Kitsap is able to balance his skills with speedsters such as senior Joel Ingram, who scored touchdowns on runs of 14 and 30 yards, and Stackhouse, who carried the ball just twice against Olympic, but racked up 56 yards. Blackmore, the quarterback, is also a threat to run, and juniors Noah North and Clayton William bring an extra dimension of power and speed to the rushing attack. North and Stackhouse are also excellent receivers who help complement Warren, the team’s top wideout.
“I think we’re just as good, if not better, than we were last year,” said Solis. “But we have a much better brotherhood, and we all connect better as a team.”
While the Vikings defense pitched a shutout, the special teams had a hiccup in the first quarter that led to the Trojans’ only touchdown. After Blackmore made it 21-0 on a rushing touchdown, Olympic speedester Darelle White returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a score.
Ingram’s second touchdown of the game with 8:40 left in the third quarter was the final North Kitsap score of the evening as the starters gave way to their backups.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.