OLYMPIA – Central Kitsap’s calling card the last decade or so has been a stingy, hard-hitting defense.
It was on full display in the closing moments Friday night.
Faced with a fourth-and-1 from the Central Kitsap 10-yard line with 1 minute, 20 seconds remaining in the game, Olympia running back Kyle Alfonso took the handoff, only to encounter a wall of white jerseys.
It proved to be the Bears’ last chance on offense as the Cougars were able to secure the game with a first down, preserving a 17-14 Narrows League 4A victory at Ingersoll Stadium.
“We call our best play and they stuffed it,” Olympia coach Bill Beattie said. “Offensively, we were horrendous tonight.”
Central Kitsap’s game-saving defensive stand may be the lasting image of the game, but the real damage was done in the turnover department, where the Bears committed five turnovers.
“We just gave it away,” Beattie said. “We made mistake after mistake out there tonight on offense and it cost us the game.”
Olympia, which rebounded from a dreadful 0-3 start by winning its previous two games, drops to 2-4 overall and 2-1 in league.
“Give credit to Central Kitsap. They made the plays they needed to tonight,” Beattie said. “Defensively, I thought we played outstanding. We just made too many mistakes on the other side of the ball.”
The Cougars (5-1, 3-1) became one dimensional in the second half, choosing to pound the ball between the tackles with Nicholas Zawadzki.
It proved to be the correct decision as Zawadzki gained 155 of his 197 rushing yards in the second half and found the end zone twice.
Two of Olympia’s turnovers came in the second half, and each time the Cougars made the Bears pay, getting touchdown runs of 7 and 8 yards from Zawadzki.
Zawadzki’s second score came seconds into the fourth quarter and gave the Cougars a 17-14 lead.
But the Bears weren’t out of it.
Michael Naipo, stepping under center whenever Olympia went to the Wildcat offense, marched the Bears down the field on their last possession, hitting Tanner Hartsoch on a 37-yard completion to put Olympia on Central Kitsap’s 19.
Nine more yards is all the Bears would manage.
Naipo finished with 134 rushing yards on 10 carries and was 4-for-4 passing for 92 yards and a touchdown.
Casey Bond finished with 96 rushing yards on 14 carries and scored twice for the Bears, once on the ground and another on a short reception.
Defensively, Olympia had three red zone-stops and forced three turnovers.
The Cougars struck first, getting a 35-yard field goal from Weston Soete with just under four minutes left in the first quarter.
Twice the Bears’ defense turned away Central Kitsap scoring opportunities in the first half. Hartsoch stopped Cougars quarterback Cody LaFontaine on fourth-and-goal from the 3.
Later Olympia recovered a fumble at its 13.
Turnovers, however, also plagued the Bears in the first half as Kaden Wilson, who alternated possessions with Naipo at quarterback, threw a pair of interceptions, and Jake Spiller fumbled on Olympia’s opening possession.
Despite the miscues, the Bears still took a 14-3 lead into the locker room at halftime.
In non-league losses to Lake Oswego, Capital and Timberline, the Bears seemed lost offensively, scoring a combined 12 points in the three games and being shut out twice.
Olympia surpassed that total in the second quarter alone against Central Kitsap, getting a pair of touchdowns.
Naipo took over at quarterback on the Bears’ fourth series. The senior needed just two touches to make his presences felt.
Following a 7-yard run, Naipo raced 66 yards on his second carry, taking the ball down to the Central Kitsap 6.
Two plays later, Bond plowed it in from 4 yards out a minute into the second quarter, giving Olympia a 7-3 lead.
A series after getting a paw on a LaFontaine pass and nearly coming up with a pick, James Bagley returned an interception to the Cougars’ 10 to set up Naipo’s 8-yard pass to Bond for the running back’s second TD. That gave the Bears a 14-3 advantage early in the second quarter.
Zawadzki opened the second half with a 70-yard run, placing the Cougars at the Olympia 10.
Once again the Bears’ defense imposed its will, turning Central Kitsap away on four downs.