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Kingston Buccaneers prepare for playoffs
KINGSTON — Forty-three students sit quietly in the Kingston High School band room after school, huddled in small groups. But the students are not there for band practice.
“We’re going to come at their quarterback like spider monkeys,” head coach Dan Novick exclaims out loud.
An eruption of laughter from the Kingston Buccaneers football players follows as the team continues to go over their playbook.
This is not the first time the team has used the band room to go over strategy, but it is the first time the team is preparing for the playoffs.
At 7 p.m. Nov. 6, the Bucs face the Lindbergh High School Eagles. The Eagles hold an overall seasonal record of 6-2 and a Seamount League record of 5-1. The Eagles are the top 2A team in the Seamount League.
The Bucs, 5-3 overall and 4-2 in the Olympic League, will look to defeat the Eagles in order to move on to the state championships. The Bucs are seeded third in the league.
This may be a first for the Bucs, but not for the Eagles.
This will be the fourth season in a row the Eagles have made it to the playoffs, said Eagles head coach Pat O’Grady.
O’Grady has coached the team for five years, three as an assistant and two as head coach. Though it is the Bucs first time in the playoffs, he said that is no reason to take the team lightly.
“Any team that is in the playoffs for the first time is going to have a lot of energy and a ‘not going to lose’ attitude,” O’Grady said. “That makes them a dangerous team.”
However, victory will not come easily. Eagles quarterback Matt Stuart has the second highest total yards—1,118—in the Seamount League with a pass completion of 48.4 percent. Eagles’ running back Bakari Davis also has the most rushing yards in the league with 988 yards.
“If we don’t match the (Buccaneers) ground speed we are going to be in a dangerous spot,” O’Grady said. “We are going to have to take away what they do best, which I know sounds cliché; but it’s cliché for a reason.”
A strong offensive line this year has helped the Bucs drive down the field and raise overall confidence, said Buccaneer quarterback Sam Byers.
Running back Lou Hecker could not agree more.
“It’s just been straight up confidence this year,” Hecker said. “Everyone can expect to see each player give 100 percent.”
Hecker is the leader for the Olympic League for most rushing yards and touchdowns. So far, he has 21 touchdowns and 1,809 rushing yards—four more yards than Bremerton running back Kyle Kennedy.
At the beginning of the season, Hecker told himself he was going to get 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns, but he surpassed even his own expectations, he said.
“It’s that killer instinct we have acquired this season that has helped us get this far,” Byers said.
As a student who has played on the team for a few seasons, Byers said the team struggled to finish games. Since the beginning of this season however, he said the team’s attitude has changed, resulting in stronger performances.
“Our first few games of the season looked similar to previous seasons,” Byers said. “We would be up during the first half, but then start to lose it. You could hear our fans say things like, ‘Oh, here we go again.’”
In the past, one of the major speed bumps for the team was the players’ focus on not losing, he said. Now, the team’s focus is winning.