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Making sense of the ever-changing South Kitsap sports landscape.

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Importance of Friday’s game should not be understated

September 19th, 2013 at Thu, 19th, 2013 at 3:34 pm by chrischancellor

Follow sports long enough and you will hear no shortage of coach-speak and clichés about “taking it one game at a time” and “all of our focus is on this week.” Fortunately, sportswriters and fans are under no such obligation, which leads us to the Class 4A Narrows League’s playoff picture.

While it might seem absurd to look that far ahead as South Kitsap enters league play Friday night against Gig Harbor at Roy Anderson Field, a closer examination reinforces how important this game is for the Wolves. That is because only the top four teams in 4A Narrows advance to the state play-in game.

A loss Friday night means South likely starts the season 0-2 in league as league-favorite Bellarmine Prep visits Port Orchard on Sept. 27. The Wolves then follow that with an Oct. 5 game at Olympia, which is coming off its first losing season in nearly a decade. But Ingersoll Stadium never is an easy venue for the visiting team, especially for South. The Wolves have lost five of their last six games against the Bears. Their only win during that span came in 2009 when Leon La Deaux translated a fake punt into an 82-yard touchdown in a 10-6 victory.

The league schedule then lightens with games against Yelm and at Stadium, sandwiched by a nonleague contest versus Lincoln, to finish October. The Wolves should be favored in both league games. But that leaves only one 4A Narrows game, Nov. 1 against Central Kitsap, remaining. A loss against Gig Harbor likely means that would fall into the must-win category for South to advance to the playoffs. And relying on a win in a rivalry that has been evenly matched — the Wolves are 23-23-1 since 1949 against the Cougars — would be shortsighted.

A win against Gig Harbor changes the conversation. Beating the Tides means South should win at least three league games, which likely would be enough to secure the league’s No. 4 playoff spot. The focus then would be on playoff positioning. Wins against either Central or Olympia probably would bump the Wolves into 4A Narrows’ third-playoff position. The difference between the league Nos. 3-4 playoff positions last year for South, which earned 4A Narrows’ final playoff spot, was visiting Camas instead of Auburn.

That topic only is relevant with a win Friday night, though.

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