PORT ORCHARD — The Knights made a three-win jump in head coach Paul Theriault’s second season at the helm last season, going 8-2 and reaching the district playoff round.
A younger team takes the field in 2018, and the Olympic League has improved overall. The players will have to mature quickly in order to stay in contention for a return to the postseason.
Bremerton rushed for 292 yards per game last year, and while the now-graduated 1,000-yard rusher Sema’J Cook was the centerpiece of that offense, there are plenty of options still around to take some handoffs.
Leading that group is senior Rasheed Joiner, who at times served as the lead back in Cook’s absence last season. Joiner rushed for 534 yards and six touchdowns. He had a memorable moment in the district playoffs when he scored an electric 94-yard touchdown, going untouched all the way to the end zone against a fast Franklin Pierce team.
During Theriault’s tenure, the Knights have had a big, athletic, pass-catching tight end. With Troy Saunders gone, senior Kaleb Peterson will step in to be a safety valve and red zone target for promising sophomore quarterback Kelo Logova.
Bremerton’s offense probably will look similar to years past, but Theriault always likes to throw in a few wrinkles depending on the players he has.
“We always try to adjust what we have to our personnel,” Theriault said.
McCoy Retome and Yakir Irving will anchor the line on both sides of the ball. McCoy’s brother, Kaipo Retome, is a returning linebacker, and Hector Infante will lock down one of the corners.
Where Bremerton struggled last year with the issues of having a thin sideline — both Joiner and Cook were injured in the first half of the 13-9 loss to Franklin Pierce and the team was down to about 25 healthy players at that point. The program’s recent success seems to have brought in some enthusiasm. The Knights have a freshman class of 32, and Theriault is excited about some of the talent he has seen so far.
But for the head coach, when the Friday night lights go on, success will be had by the players on the field, not the size of the sideline.
“I don’t think it’s the number of guys. It’s the guys you got,” Theriault said.
The Knights will have a tough schedule right out of the gates. Road games against Black Hills, Wilson, North Mason and North Kitsap make up four of their first five games. They close the year with home games against Port Angeles, Kingston and Sequim and a road game against Olympic.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com.