North Kitsap qualified all of its fall sports teams to their respective state tournaments for the third straight year
POULSBO — It’s beginning to be a tradition at North Kitsap to send its fall sports teams to their respective state tournaments.
North Ktsap’s football, volleyball, girls soccer and girls swimming, boys and girls cross country teams all qualified while the boys tennis team won the district title and will be represented at state in the spring.
“Everything with Poulsbo and North Kitsap High School I really think it’s community effort,” said senior volleyball outside hitter Noey Barreith. “You look at all the sports and our community is just so over-involved with it all and so supportive.”
North Kitsap High School athletics director Matt Stanford said it’s the third consecutive year the school qualified its teams.
“It is fun to see ‘North Kitsap’ when looking at state tournament brackets,” Stanford said. “Our players and coaches put in a ton of work and to see it pay off in regards to state level competition has to be rewarding for them.”
Head football coach Jeff Weible agreed.
Weible said many of the coaches who double as teachers work with the athletes throughout the school year and it becomes more of a mentor role than coach-athlete.
It also comes down to community, administrative and student body support.
“Our community is outstanding and supports everything we do,” Weible said. “I can’t even tell you how many texts and messages and emails I got after last week.”
Of course, most of the credit goes to the student-athletes who dedicate their time and talent to each sport.
“We have great youth organizations here,” he said. “These kids are exposed to really good coaching at a young age and so they’re fundamentally and technically a lot further along then some kids.”
The ninth-ranked football team is headed to Everett Memorial Stadium for its 2A state football round of 16 game at 7 p.m. against No. 8 Archbishop Murphy.
It’s the fourth time in five years the two teams have met in the playoffs, but Weible thinks this is the Vikings strongest team in terms of depth and overall ability to face ATM.
“I think this is a better opportunity to beat them with what we’re doing now,” he said.
Weible said the addition of running back Taylor Jackson, who was out waiting an appeal after his transfer from O’Dea, in week six was a big boost to the offense and defense. Include sophomore standout Colton Bower and a solid, well-coached defensive line and the Vikings have high hopes, he said.
“There’s a lot of things we do offensively that could make it difficult on them,” Weible added.
Of the five teams representing NK, the girls swimming team has the distinction of returning to Federal Way’s King County Aquatic Center as the reigning state champions.
Junior Brianna Hoffman, who won the 200-yard freestyle and was second in the 500 freestyle last season, said the winning attitude is pervasive among student athletes. It also helps that many of them play multiple sports. Hoffman plays softball and helped the Vikings qualify for state in the spring.
Hoffman said there’s an internal competitiveness between each sport and they want to outdo their peers.
“As a team, we’ve got to beat football or volleyball, so when we won state …” Hoffman said with a big smile.
Hoffman said it’s pretty cool to head back to state as the defending champions but the pressure was there to find that level of success again. North won the Olympic League title and squeaked out a win over Lindbergh at the district meet. Now the question is what do teams like Liberty, Sammamish and Aberdeen have returning to push the Vikings.
“For me, this whole year I felt like everyone was watching us,” she said.
Hoffman said winning the district title was a big boost in confidence for the Vikings who not only graduated several key swimmers but multiple-state champion Eleanor Beers decided to not swim high school. Beers is focusing on club swimming with the intention of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team trials but will be riding with Hoffman’s mother to cheer on the Vikings.
“We have enough talent on this team to be the best in the district, even though we don’t have Eleanor,” Hoffman said. “We’re doing this for her. She’s always on the back of our minds.”
North Kitsap’s volleyball teams knows a thing or two about the pressure of producing.
The Viking spikers have won seven multiple league titles, a district title, nine overall state appearances, including seven straight, and brought back three trophies.
North faces Ellensburg at Central Washington University at 11:45 a.m. Friday in its state opener and coach Tim French said the same feelings of excitement, anticipation and anxiety are all there.
“I feel like our district was stronger, the top end of it was stronger and so they’ll be there,” French said. “It’s going to be tough but … nothing comes easy at this point.”
The Vikings are also tired of leaving empty-handed.
“We’re going there to win,” French said. “Not just to go. They’re focused on playing their very best and seeing if that’s enough to win. They’re not going just to have a good time.”
Barreith, who helped the Vikings finish seventh her freshman campaign, said the intensity needs to be there from the beginning — no matter if it’s an 8 a.m. start or not.
“I really want to do it because every year we say ‘let’s bring home hardware’ and it’s just kind of a saying,” she said, adding sometimes the meaning gets lost during the regular season. “It’s really easy to say it then to do it.”
Barreith said the loss to White River at district woke them up and forced the Vikings to find that grit they don’t always need during OL matches.
“Energy is key and playing together and having that grit and fighting, fighting, fighting every point,” she said.
The girls soccer team started the postseason with a win in its state opener thanks to a 1-0 shutout of Cheney Wednesday night at Gonzaga Prep High School in Spokane. They’ll be on the road again Saturday to play at Selah in the state quarterfinals.
NOTE: This story was updated to reflect a correction in Brianna Hoffman’s graduation year. She is a junior.