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Whats wrong with the Knights?
He may have been talking about just the opening game of the season, but Bremerton running back Ian Matekiat already summed up the first half of the season.
When you look at the big picture, we didnt accomplish the goals we set out for, he said. We lost all our good players from last year and before the season started everyone placed us last. We wanted to prove everyone wrong.
The Knights have yet to prove anything so far this season, except that the 35-member team is far below par in the Bridge Division.
The defense is in shambles after giving up an average of 52 points per game (ppg), worst among the 16 teams in the Narrows League.
Port Angeles running back Adam Macomber ate up the Knights for 312 yards in a 56-6 drubbing. North Kitsaps Andy Sturza ran for 124 yards in a 48-0 win for the Vikings on Oct. 3. South Kitsap got 38 yards out of Shannon Haney and 72 from Mathew Shepherd that yielded five touchdowns by halftime in a 56-0 rout.
All that came after first-year coach Mike McKnights pledged after Week 2, We are going back to tackling. We are learning, we just have to accelerate our learning.
The lesson learned the Knights have a tough time stopping the run and the probable cause is McKnights late hiring. It hindered spring practices. Aditionally, summer camp and summer workouts in the weight room were left in the lurch. All that has left the team in a weaker physical state than their opponents.
Dont blame the coach blame the management on that one. It shouldnt take four months to hire a football coach.
Not to say all is lost on defense. The Knights stopped a South Kitsap drive on the 2-yard line and held North Kitsap to 7 points in the first quarter.
But football is a game that goes both ways and theres trouble on the other side of the ball as well.
The offense, which scored two touchdowns in the opener, has been on hiatus since then with only a single touchdown scored in four games. At a 3.8 ppg clip, that puts them marginally above 16th-ranked Stadium (3.0 ppg.)
Yet changing the game plan now is counter-productive. McKnights sticking with the option because to change means throwing out the playbook and giving the young team a whole new system to learn.
So the only option is the option which was fine when Bremerton had a quarterback with speed in Aubrey Neal in 2002. But starting quarterback Jeff Frankeberger is no Aubrey Neal who also started 0-4 as a senior before going 4-1 down the stretch.
Witness two plays from the Oct. 3 game against North Kitsap. After leading Bremerton down 73 yards on its opening drive to the 1-yard line, Frankeberger tried the quarterback sneak on a tough Vikings defensive line in goal-line formation. No dice. After a timeout, the Knights tried the same play a second time on fourth down ... and came up short.
We had the momentum, Frankeberger said, but we shot ourselves in the foot.
The chances of the Knights going wild in the win column from here on out are slim. They have a home game against Gig Harbor next Friday and follow that with a road trip to Shelton on Oct. 24. Both the Tides and Highclimbers bring tough defenses to the playing field Gig Harbor leads the league in defense at 7.8 ppg and Shelton is in ninth at 20.4 ppg.
Their best chances of victory are going to come in the last two games of the year when they face Olympics gone fishin defense (ranked 13th at 35.2 ppg) on Oct. 30 at Memorial Stadium and likely either Stadium or Mount Tahoma (two teams still looking for their first wins in the Bay Division) in the crossover game the following week.
Then theres always next season.
Sean Lamphere is the sports editor of the Bremerton Patriot.