PORT ANGELES — The North Kitsap High School football team is still winless after Friday’s 28-26 loss to Port Angeles.
But, unlike previous losses, this one gave coach Jerry Parrish reason for optimism.
The Vikings’ offense, which so far this year has sputtered and stalled during most drives, had one of its most productive and diverse games of the year, with quarterback Chad Foster throwing a trio of touchdown passes and running back James Smith rushing for 159 yards, which included an 80-yard sprint into the end zone.
“The kids finally decided to work hard, and they did work hard,” Parrish said after the game. “They did really well.”
Parrish was impressed by the play of junior quarterback Foster, who completed seven of 20 passes and threw three touchdown passes, two to Patrick Gilbert and one to Jerrod Gonzales.
“Sometimes,” Parrish said, “it even looked like we diagrammed it.”
Parrish said he was pleased by the progress of Foster, who Parrish dubs a big part of the team’s future.
Foster’s productivity was brought about, Parrish said, by the team’s offensive line, which offered plenty of blocking for Foster and the other offensive players.
“Those kids played darn well,” Parrish said, specifically referring to Chris Carlsen, Derrick Sauer, Alex Campagna, and Ben Bruce.
While the defense was unable to hold the Roughriders’ point total under the Vikings’, Parrish said their team, along with the offense, was as consistent as it had been all year.
Especially linebackers Chris Carlsen and Mark Sargeant. Sargeant racked up nine unassisted tackles and made nine assists for a total of 18; Carlsen had 11 unassisted tackles and eight assists, for a total of 19.
Port Angeles was the first team on the board Friday, as quarterback Matt Lane hit receiver Jordan Rhoads for a 14-yard pass.
The kick failed, but the Roughriders, coached by former NKHS teacher and coach Dan Novick, held a 6-0 lead
The Roughriders added to that score in the second quarter when running back Jesse Long punched the ball in from three yards out.
Quarterback Lane tacked on a complete pass for a two-point conversion, and the lead was suddenly 14-0.
The Vikings scored next. Smith got the ball at the Vikings’ 20 and didn’t stop running until he had reached the Roughriders’ end zone for a score, his longest run of the year.
The two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the Vikings staring at a 14-6 deficit.
That didn’t last long, as the Roughriders drove and scored. Jesse Long’s run from 28 out gave the Roughriders the score, and a run for a two-point conversion by quarterback Lane gave P.A. the 22-6 lead.
The Vikings chipped away as Gilbert threw his first touchdown of the game, hitting Patrick Gilbert from nine yards out. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Vikings had slashed the lead down to 22-12.
The Roughriders increased that gap on Long’s second TD run of the game, this one a 29-yard scamper.
This time the two-point conversion failed, but the P.A. lead was 28-12.
In the fourth quarter the Vikings chipped away twice at that lead, once when Foster hit Gilbert with a 34-yard pass, and again when Foster hit Jerrod Gonzales with an 11-yard pass, then passed to Gilbert for the two-point conversion.
But North couldn’t drag its way all the way back. The team was unable to convert late in the fourth, and fell 28-26.
“They (the Roughriders) had a couple of plays,” Parrish said, “but we had consistency, which we haven’t had in a while. We’re looking forward to winning our next two games.”
And if fans of the Vikings want more hope, Parrish has that, too; Monday afternoon he watched as the Vikings’ JV defeated Port Angeles at North Kitsap.
“It’s refreshing to see those kids playing well,” Parrish said. “We can measure the improvement of the young kids, and that’s wonderful.”