Kingston’s homecoming a bitter pill to swallow

Kingston’s Tyler Klopp fumbles a pass during Friday’s game against Sequim at NK stadium. The Bucs were defeated, 74-0. - Brad Camp/Staff photo
Kingston’s Tyler Klopp fumbles a pass during Friday’s game against Sequim at NK stadium. The Bucs were defeated, 74-0.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff photo

Bucs lose to Sequim 74-0, but there’s always a second chance.

POULSBO — It definitely wasn’t the homecoming game the Buccaneers would’ve liked to play.

Unlike the homecoming royalty parade at half time, which boasted a Buccaneer pulling a tied up Wolf with a sign that read, “Tamed by the Kingston Buccaneers,” the Bucs did not tame the Sequim Wolves during Friday night football action at the North Kitsap Stadium.

Instead, the Wolves plundered the home team’s homecoming festivities as Sequim led 60-0 at the half and the fourth quarter ended with an even more devastating display, 74-0.

The score just didn’t make much sense, coming off a double overtime 21-14 loss the Friday before to Washington.

But throw in a lack of mental preparation before the game, a few injuries — offensive and defensive cornerstone Travis Schriner was out — a handful of players who needed to step up and fell a little short, and a roster of athletes with minimal football competition experience, and disaster can result.

“They’re better, but not 74-0 better. They’re definitely better physically, but that doesn’t mean you get outmatched 74-0, and that has to do with a lack of preparation on our part,” said head coach Dan Novick on Monday. “Our problems on Friday did not have to do with Sequim, but our effort and that’s the truth. I could tell they weren’t ready to play.”

The Wolves, however, were ready to play, capitalizing on all their first-half possessions, capping its touchdown pushes with two-point conversions on all but one attempt.

And it happened in painfully fast succession. Within the first five minutes, Sequim led by 16, and the first quarter came to a close 24-0. The second quarter saw an additional 36 Sequim points.

Naturally the mood in the locker room at the half was somber, and 24 minutes of play still remained.

“There’s no playbook or script of what to say to kids when you’re down 60-0, but you can’t gloss over it,” Novick said. “At some point you’ve got to be honest and we weren’t getting the effort level out of our starters so we gave our backup a chance to play and they competed better.”

Second string players from both teams finished out the second half.

Although Kingston had a really rough night, their fans are genuine and stuck with them through it all.

During the first half Buccaneer quarterback Paul Bagala tossed a 21-yard and 15-yard pass to Chance Pruiett and a 10-yard pass to Ian Brown, who caught it by the skin of his fingertips. At each completion and each glimmer of Buccaneer momentum the crowd went crazy with cheers. They hadn’t lost spirit.

“It’s so much fun to support them, even if we don’t win it makes the team feel better,” said junior Leah Helm at the half, before shouting “I love football.” “We’re a little sad after the game when we lose, but we always get excited before the next game because maybe we can make a splash. It’s just football. Everyone loves football.”

And it’s an attitude similar to Helm’s we’ll-get-um-next-time line of thought that Novick hopes the Bucs will tap into for the remainder of the season.

No doubt a 74-point spread is a “hard pill to swallow,” but it can also produce big possibilities for a positive turnaround.

“It’s going to be a good pill if it forces us to look in the mirror and reevaluate how we prepare and approach games from a mental stand point,” Novick said. “A lot can compete when things are going well and when they’re not that’s the true test of character and we have an opportunity to respond. If we don’t learn from it, it will happen again. It could be a powerful learning lesson for us.”

The difficult loss can make the Bucs tougher and instead of letting that define the season and program Novick said he’s charged with challenging the players, himself and coaching staff to respond and up the mental preparedness ante.

“We can come back and let 40 minutes against the next team define us,” he said. “We have to fix our effort level and that’s what it comes down to.”

The Bucs travel to Klahowya on Thursday.

The game starts at 7 p.m.

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