PORT ORCHARD — Nearly three calendar years have passed since South Kitsap has won a football game, but the program’s 21-game losing streak came to an end on a magical night at Ed Fisher Field.
With a full moon on Friday the 13th and a newly-christened athletic field, perhaps there was a bit of wizardry still lingering over Port Orchard from the days during which South Kitsap had one of the most consistent programs in Washington state.
It was a group effort for South Kitsap, as some new recruits joined up with the mainstays to guide the team to a 31-14 victory over Rogers, its first since Nov. 2, 2016.
Rylen Bayne, who came out for football this year for the first time since seventh grade, stepped in at quarterback to throw for 170 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those went to track star Deyondre Davis — back after a year away from football — who hauled in four passes for 103 yards in all and held in check the Rams’ top receiver. Sam Canton had two interceptions on defense and Da’Vi Guzman-Estrada, a junior and another player suiting up for the first time, caught a 31-yard touchdown pass.
But the victory was even sweeter for players such as Tyson Carter, who carried the ball 17 times for 85 yards, often breaking tackles to pick up extra yardage; fullback and linebacker Richard Nolan, who spearheaded a solid pass rush and made quite a few good plays on defense, including a fumble recovery, and a couple of pass breakups and tackles for a loss; and Dylon Murray, who served as a change of pace back and carried 10 times for 62 yards and a touchdown. They are among the players who have stayed committed to South Kitsap football through the leanest of years.
“That’s a weight lifted off their shoulders,” said head coach Dan Ericson of his veteran players.
The Wolves were in good shape at the end of the first quarter, down just 7-0 despite a couple of special teams mistakes and a 35-yard touchdown by Rams sophomore Cameron Beck.
It would have been easy for the players to say “here we go again” in regards to their missteps, but instead they banded together in the face of adversity. They just needed a spark.
Bayne, who had never played quarterback before this year, gave his team some life when he hit Guzman-Estrada on a beautiful back shoulder throw with 23.3 seconds to go in the half to tie the game at 7.
“He did such a great job getting off the corner, it made my job easy,” Bayne said.
Three minutes into the third quarter, Bayne connected with Davis in stride on a route over the middle and the state track champion was off to the races for a 56-yard touchdown to put South Kitsap ahead. A few minutes later after a Davis interception, Murray punched in a score from eight yards out to give the Wolves a two-touchdown lead.
Bayne and Davis hooked up one more time in the fourth quarter for a 24-yard score on a fourth down play with 2:46 to go. After that touchdown, excitement grew in the stands and on the sidelines as it looked more and more certain the losing streak was coming to an end.
“It’s such a good feeling,” Davis said. “I wanted to cry after.”
The Wolves lined up in victory formation and the celebration was on. Ericson quickly received a Gatorade bath before he could get too far away from the sidelines, and players and coaches hugged, cried and celebrated as if they had just won the state championship.
21 straight losses, two 0-10 seasons, and years of pessimism were all erased on one extraordinary evening.
“We’ve been working so hard for this,” Bayne said. “It couldn’t happen to a better group of guys.”
South Kitsap 31, Rogers 14
RG 7 0 7 0 — 14
SK 0 7 14 10 — 31
Rogers — Cameron Beck 35 run (Lettiere kick)
South Kitsap — Da’Vi Guzman-Estrada 31 pass from Rylen Bayne (Peterson kick)
South Kitsap — Deyondre Davis 56 pass from Bayne (Peterson kick)
South Kitsap — Dylon Murray 8 run (Peterson kick)
Rogers — Beck 61 pass from Isaac Looker (Lettiere kick)
South Kitsap — Chase Peterson 29 field goal
South Kitsap — Davis 24 pass from Bayne (Peterson kick)
Passing — SK: Bayne 8-15-170, 3 TD; Moore 1-3-5. Rogers: Looker 15-37-182, TD, 3 INT; Pizi 1-3-11.
Rushing — SK: Carter 17-85, Murray 10-62, TD; Rentie 2-11, Nolan 3-6, Moore 1-(-11). Rogers: Riddal 15-73, Beck 3-55, TD; Diener 3-27, Looker 2-23.
Receiving — SK: Davis 4-108, 2 TD; Guzman-Estrada 1-31, TD; Nolan 1-16, Carter 2-15, Canton 1-5. Rogers: Beck 6-105, TD; Rios-Trapp 10-76, Santi 1-12.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.