Central Kitsap christened the new Kitsap Credit Union Athletic Complex with a 41-17 win over Olympic in the Battle of Bucklin Hill

SILVERDALE — It was 33 years in the making for Central Kitsap’s football team and the Cougars rallied for their first win on campus 41-17 against rival Olympic High Friday night at the newly dedicated Kitsap Credit Union Athletic Complex.

The last time the Cougars won at home was in 1986, before they moved their games to the former Silverdale Stadium.

It was a rocky start for the Cougars, but in the end they got what they wanted — the victory.

Central Kitsap junior running back Josh Willis slips past the attempted tackle from Trent Feistner of Olympic on his way to a touchdown during a non-league football game at the Kitsap Credit Union Athletic Complex Friday, Sept. 7, 2019. Central Kitsap won 41-17 over Olympic. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)
Central Kitsap junior running back Josh Willis slips past the attempted tackle from Trent Feistner of Olympic on his way to a touchdown during a non-league football game at the Kitsap Credit Union Athletic Complex Friday, Sept. 7, 2019. Central Kitsap won 41-17 over Olympic. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

“We were definitely over-hyped for this game,” said Central Kitsap head coach Mark Keel. “They’ve been putting up, and decorating and we had a pep assembly and everybody’s coming in to buy tickets … but I think once the guys settled down we started playing football, especially defensively.”

Junior running back Joshua Willis, who ran for 254 yards on 36 carries and two touchdowns, said they were definitely ready for the game.

Maybe too ready.

“We just had to get one good play,” Willis said. “Once I got that first touchdown everybody settled down.”

Willis heard the talk around the South Sound Conference and within media circles that the Cougars offense wasn’t that good, he said. He wanted to change that perception Friday night.

“I just have to step up and show everyone we’re better,” he said. 

Emotions were running high the first half on both sides of the ball and with a very loud capacity crowd cheering their teams on, even the opening kickoff lived up to the hype.

Olympic senior Malcolm Dewalt took the ball 82 yards to the end zone on the opening kickoff, using his speed to sidestep down the Trojans’ sideline for a 7-0 lead after the PAT.

Olympic's Malcolm Dewalt gets an interception in front of Central Kitsap's Jason Almonte during a non-league football game between CK and Olympic at the Kitsap Credit Union Athletic Complex Friday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)
Olympic’s Malcolm Dewalt gets an interception in front of Central Kitsap’s Jason Almonte during a non-league football game between CK and Olympic at the Kitsap Credit Union Athletic Complex Friday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

“Honestly, my dad always told me just run,” Dewalt said. “He coached me in middle school and I’d always do these juke moves and he’d tell me, ‘just run no one’s catching you.’ I caught it and was like, you know what, just run, and I ran. I thought I was going to go out or somebody was going to push me.”

Central Kitsap got the ball on the ensuing kick return, but Dewalt figured in on the drive when he intercepted the first of two picks on the night as the Cougars turned the ball over. Dewalt’s speed allowed him to slip past the defense and back into the end zone for a 31-yard score and just like that Olympic was up 14-0 in the first five minutes.

“It seems we had a really good first quarter,” Olympic head coach Sal Quitevis, Jr., said. “After that, the guys were going down with injuries and cramps, and I know it was going on on both sides. 

“You have to give your hat off to them, they went down 14 and came back on us and took it to us the rest of the game. We have to somehow learn from this.”

“There was a lot of intensity and a lot of fire in the game,” Dewalt said postgame. “A big rivalry of course and probably one of the biggest games of the season. We fell short but we have time to prepare for our next game. It’s just one game. Go on to the next.”

CK’s Keel said his stomach sunk with Dewalt’s kick return and again on the interception.

“We cannot leave the ball hanging in the air with those two guys because they are really good athletes,” he said.

Central Kitsap's Jason Almonte starts down the field on a kick return during a non-league football game at the Kitsap Credit Union Athletic Complex Friday, Sept. 7, 2019. Central Kitsap won 41-17 over Olympic. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)
Central Kitsap’s Jason Almonte starts down the field on a kick return during a non-league football game at the Kitsap Credit Union Athletic Complex Friday, Sept. 7, 2019. Central Kitsap won 41-17 over Olympic. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

The Cougars, despite personal foul penalties after heated plays, settled down and answered Olympic when Willis broke free of the Trojans defense and scored CK’s first touchdown on a 42-yard run, 14-7 to end the first quarter.

The lead shrunk even more when quarterback Joshua Flaugher found senior tight end Jeven Keel for a 17-yard touchdown pass, 17-14. Central didn’t stop there. The offense found its rhythm as Flaugher threw his second TD of the game on a 17-yard pass to Kalai Pasai to give the Cougars their first lead,  21-17 at halftime.

Keel said as Olympic started to slow down, the Cougars upped their game.

“That was the biggest difference,” he said.

After a quiet third quarter the Cougars started rolling again — this time on an interception return by junior Flex Rodenhurst who took it to the end zone and a 28-17 CK lead. Willis then capped his scoring with a 70-yard TD run with 2:23 left in the game and a 35-17 lead.

CK added one more score late on a Christian Arcangel-Diego touchdown pass to Zach Webb with 1:54 left to punctuate the win. There was some bad news for both teams. CK junior wide receiver Jason Almonte was lost in the first half to a shoulder injury and Keel confirmed it’s a broken collarbone. Almonte landed awkwardly on a catch in the second quarter and was helped off the field. Senior Ezekiel Sousou also suffered a shoulder injury and missed the second half. Olympic lost three starters to injury and will be week-to-week. 

Olympic's Malcolm Dewalt gets an interception in front of Central Kitsap's Jason Almonte during a non-league football game between CK and Olympic at the Kitsap Credit Union Athletic Complex Friday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

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Around the peninsula

Kingston opened the 2019 season with a win at Klahowya as the Eagles hosted their first home game since the school opened in 1999. The Buccaneers jumped out to a 14-7 lead in the first half and added another touchdown with 2:46 left in the third to make it 20-7. That score would hold through the final buzzer.

Bainbridge earned a 14-5 win over North Kitsap at Bainbridge. Bainbridge led 7-3 at halftime as its defense had two sacks to keep the Vikings offense off the field. NK did manage a 32-yard field goal and added a safety. Bainbridge’s Alexander Ledbetter scored a touchdown from seven yards out and the Spartans defense came up with a key fumble recovery in the fourth. A 12-yard TD run by Ledbetter put Bainbridge up by two scores and the defense answered with a key sack to seal the win. Bainbridge racked up 202 total yards, 140 on the ground to 56 yards for NK and 101 total yards.

North Mason won the Mason County Cup 20-0 over the Shelton Highclimbers.

Bremerton lost its home opener, 31-29, to Black Hills. 

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