The North Kitsap football team punched its ticket to the state championship game for the first time in school history by defeating W.F. West 29-22 Nov. 26 in Tumwater.
“It’s euphoric,” cornerback Alex Hitchings said. “We have been wanting this for years, and it’s an amazing feeling.”
No. 3 ranked North Kitsap will play No. 1 ranked Lynden for the state 2A football championship Dec. 3 at 5 p.m. at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. The Vikings will be looking for revenge after losing to the Lions 15-10 in the semifinal game in a monsoon at Civic Stadium in Bellingham last year. Lynden went on to win the state crown. The Lions will be looking to repeat after beating No. 4 Enumclaw 41-14 in their semifinal game in Bellingham.
North Kitsap was knocked down early by No. 2 ranked W.F. West when they converted a handful of third-down possessions. After a pass interference call in the end zone, running back Tucker Land scored on a 7-yard reception.
The Vikings continued to stumble as the Bearcats flipped a botched snap on the extra point to a scrambling two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead.
“They came out and punched us,” Viking coach Jeff Weible said. “We pulled the kids over right after that and said, ‘Hey, if we play our brand of football, everything will be OK.’ The kids answered the call.”
After falling behind 15-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Vikings began to claw their way back to victory.
“Our kids came out and kept fighting,” Weible said. “To come out on the first drive and do that then get a pick, it was phenomenal.”
Kicker Diego DeLuna kicked a 33-yard field goal while running back Carter Dungy punched the ball in from the 1-yard line to make it 15-10 at halftime.
NK’s Logan Sloman started the second half with a 30-yard TD reception to give the Vikings a 16-15 lead after a failed two-point conversion.
The Vikings turned the tide in the middle of the third quarter when the Bearcats had a third down on North Kitsap’s 1-yard line. The NK defense was up to the challenge and kept the Bearcats from scoring.
“The coaches planning during the week has been so beneficial for us,” Hitchings said. “All they have been doing is helping us so much and why I have grown so much these past two weeks. We have grown so much as a team.”
Hitchings played an important role later when he intercepted a pass that led to another Viking score. Jaxson Gore ended the third quarter with a 63-yard TD reception to put NK up 23-15.
The Viking special team unit sealed the victory with a couple of late-game field goals, giving the Vikings the win.
“Hopefully the whole county will be with us” at the title game, Weible said. “We are going to have a huge crowd down there so they better be ready for Viking Nation in Puyallup.”