Weather forces NK to use ground game in 32-0 win over BI

If North Kitsap hopes to go far in the state high school football playoffs next month the team will have to get ready for bad weather and tough conditions.

The Vikings got a taste of that Thursday night; the wind and rain grounded their normally potent aerial attack, but thanks to their all-state playmaker at quarterback, North Kitsap got their engines running in the second half and walked off with a 32-0 win over Bainbridge to move to 7-0 on the season.

The stormy conditions forced the Vikings to face a headwind in the first quarter and that made throwing the ball difficult.

“Weather is a great equalizer,” North Kitsap coach Jeff Weible said. “We obviously had trouble throwing the ball tonight. Give Bainbridge credit, they played hard and had a good game plan.”

It initially looked like Bainbridge might be better-suited for the wet, chilly night as they put together a couple of long drives despite losing quarterback Jack Grant on their third offensive play of the game. However, the North Kitsap defense ultimately prevented them from scoring.

The Spartans’ first drive ended with a blocked field goal that nearly still had enough momentum to get through the uprights, but fell short and to the right. Ethan Guerra foiled Bainbridge’s next drive by recovering a fumble.

But the Vikings weren’t having much luck offensively either. A couple of untimely drops by receivers and penalties helped fizzle any momentum the defense gained.

Weible said: “A couple of times, we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties and got behind the chains a little bit. You can’t do that, especially in this weather.”

Midway through the second quarter, North Kitsap was finally able to convert those turnovers into points. After EJ Vailolo recovered a fumble, Colton Bower escaped the pocket and rushed for a 26-yard touchdown to put his team on the board. It was the only score of the first half.

“I told them at halftime, ‘We’re in for a fight. Let’s see what we’re made of in the second half,’” Weible said.

His team responded well to that challenge. They forced a Bainbridge three-and-out on the opening drive and then marched 59 yards down the field, scoring on a 17-yard pass from Bower to Lincoln Castillo.

On their next drive, Bower scored on an electric 65-yard run, taking the ball up the middle and bursting through the secondary for the score. Logan Sloman recovered a fumble on Bainbridge’s next drive and two plays later, Zeke Harris was in the end zone on a 7-yard run.

Bower forced a turnover in the third quarter with an interception, and on the first play of the fourth quarter converted again on an 11-yard pass over the middle to Castillo. Bower only had 76 yards passing in the game, but he rushed for 133 yards on seven carries. The starters were pulled following that drive.

Micah Bryant was a lone bright spot for BI, rushing for 86 yards on 26 carries.

The Vikings close out their regular season schedule next Friday at home against Kingston. Bainbridge will travel to North Mason for its final regular-season game.

North Kitsap 32, Bainbridge 0

NK 0 7 19 6 — 32

BI 0 0 0 0 — 0

Scoring Summary

Second Quarter

North Kitsap — Colton Bower 26 run (Diego DeLuna kick)

Third Quarter

North Kitsap — Lincoln Castillo 17 pass from Bower (DeLuna kick)

North Kitsap — Bower 65 run (conversion failed)

North Kitsap — Zeke Harris 7 run (conversion failed)

Fourth Quarter

North Kitsap — Castillo 11 pass from Bower (conversion failed)

Individual Statistics

Passing — North Kitsap: Bower 8-21-76, 2 TDs; C. Edwards 1-2-9; Pahrmann 0-2-0. Bainbridge: Utter 7-20-56, 2 INT; Grant 1-1-9.

Rushing — North Kitsap: Bower 7-133, 2 TDs; Harris 7-38, TD; Lawler 7-11; Hitchings 1-9; Castillo 1-3; Randle 2-0; C. Edwards 1(-1); Z. Edwards 1-(-4); Pahrmann 2-(-9). Bainbridge: Bryant 26-86; Dorsey 5-30; LeDorze 5-23; Goade 1-4; Grant 1-1; Lockyear 1-0; Utter 9-(-18).

Receiving — North Kitsap: Castillo 2-28, 2 TDs; Hitchings 2-19; Oppliger 2-16; Guerra 1-12; No. 18 (not on roster) 1-9; Sloman 1-1. Bainbridge: LeDorze 3-42; Utter 1-9; Bryant 2-8; Lavigne 2-6.

Jeff Utter (3) fakes the handoff to Micah Bryant (8) before running the option play against North Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Jeff Utter (3) fakes the handoff to Micah Bryant (8) before running the option play against North Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)