Bearcats Need Offense to Keep Humming Against Dominant NK Defense


Go down its schedule and see how many points North Kitsap has allowed per week, and it becomes apparent what the No. 3 Vikings hang their hat on.

  1. 8. 0. 0. 0. 6. 0. 6. 0. 0. 7. 7.

Through 12 games, North Kitsap has surrendered just 48 points and pitched six shutouts. After their 10-7 win over No. 6 Anacortes in the 2A state semifinal, NK head coach Jeff Weible told reporters that his mentality was that two scoring plays are just about all it feels like the Vikings need to win, and so far, he’s been completely right.

So, there’s the challenge for the No. 2 W.F. West football team this weekend, playing in just its second state semifinal ever.

“We’ve got to execute,” Bearcats coach Dan Hill said. “Every defense has its weakness. Just being able to expose the weaknesses and what they’re doing, and utilizing our team speed and the arm of our quarterback and the legs of our receivers.”

The Bearcats themselves are coming off one of their best offensive showings of the season, in a 31-point outing to down No. 10 Sedro-Woolley.

And after a season building its identity on the back of a bruising front, W.F. West has really started to lean into the other side of its offense, covering the entire field with a dangerous spread attack.

The Bearcats had limited success early running the ball up the middle early against the Cubs, with tailback Tucker Land and quarterback Gavin Fugate combining for 39 rushing yards in the first half on just 10 carries. But W.F. West exploited the outside of the field early and often, with a sprinkling of jet sweeps and a heaping of screen passes to the perimeter forming the offense’s backbone.

Going up against North Kitsap’s hulking front — one Hill said might be the biggest in the state — the name of the game might once again be to get the ball away from the line and into open space as fast as possible. And the key to that could well be its complement — a downfield attack designed to keep the Vikings from pushing too many defenders close to the ball.

“Our receivers, they’re explosive, and they’re going to have to honor that, because if they don’t we will beat them over the top,” Hill said. “They won’t be able to put eight guys in the box all the time, and when they do that, it opens up some underneath stuff, for sure.”

That receiving group, which started out as a possible strength for the team, has grown out of adversity and necessity for the Bearcats. With starters like Gage Brumfield and Cameron Amoroso having to miss time with injuries earlier in the season, new faces had to step into increased roles. As original starters returned — and with Amoroso set to return this weekend, it’ll be everyone back — quarterback Gavin Fugate’s arsenal only increased.

“Instead of having four varsity receivers, I feel like we’ve got seven varsity receivers that can go in and do a good job for us,” Hill said.

The Bearcats will need big days out of a few of them to have their best shot against the Vikings, who themselves are playing in the Final Four for just the second time — though their first was just last season. In Chehalis, it’s a return to playing football Thanksgiving weekend for the first time since 2011, and the Bearcats are relishing the holiday scheduling.

“The kids have been looking forward to having Thanksgiving morning practice,” Hill said. “We’ll have a little breakfast for them, and then practice in the morning, and then give them a little extended break for them that afternoon and the next morning. It’s a very good problem to have, to be playing football on Thanksgiving.”

North Kitsap and W.F. West play at 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, at Tumwater Stadium.