Monthly Archives: December 2013

Key matchup: Hawks’ Okung vs. Rams’ mighty Quinn

Sure, it’s possible for the Seattle Seahawks to win the Super Bowl as a No. 5 seed.

But nobody, especially the Seahawks, wants to go down that road. Seattle would have to win three road playoff games in order to secure a spot in the Super Bowl.

The path, at least on paper, would be much easier if the Seahawks (12-3) beat the St. Louis Rams (7-8) and lock up the No. 1 seed and home field playoff advantage. They’d get a bye, and you can’t overstate how important that would be. A week of rest at this point of the season would be huge. Then, they’d get a home playoff game, and another one if they won.

So there’s a lot at stake today, and even though the Rams are out of the playoff picture, they should make it tough on the Seahawks as they try to finish .500 for the first time i seven years. St. Louis hell the Hawks to 135 yards and seven first downs the first time around, but somehow managed to lose the game 14-9 when Golden Tate got loose for an 80-yard touchdown reception.

Here’s the key matchup: Seattle left tackle Russell Okung vs. Rams’ defense end Robert Quinn, who leads the NFL with 18 sacks and six forced fumbles. Three of those sacks came against Wilson in the first game on Oct. 28. Okung missed that game with a toe injury, and that injury forced him to miss some snaps last week. If Quinn has a quiet day, then the Seahawks should be in pretty good shape. 

Prediction: The Seahawks are favored by 12. If I was betting, I’d take the Rams and the points. This one promises to be close — again. Seattle 19, Rams 17.

Here’s a column I wrote earlier in the week about the Seahawks needing to finish what they started.


This is not a do-or-die game, but it might as well be, writes Terry Blount of

Richard Sherman’s confident the Seahawks will play better than they did in last week’s loss against Arizona.

Important sub-plot to today’s game: Tacoma News Tribune columnist Dave Boling wonders if QB Russell Wilson bounces back after having a bad day last week?


Kitna’s gift; Edgar for HOF? Tanaka a good fit for Mariners? Knights ranked No. 9

Coolest story of the week: Lincoln High football coach and match teacher Jon Kitna, 41, signing with the Dallas Cowboys to be a backup quarterback. Wait, it gets better. It’s been reported that the Tacoma native is donating the $53,000 he earns this week to Lincoln High, his old school. His generosity probably doesn’t surprise those who know him. Kitna’s goal when he accepted the football job at Lincoln was to build “R.E.A.L. Men” who (R)eject passivity, (E)mpathize with others, (A)ccept responsibility and (L)ead courageously.

The case for and against Edgar Martinez when it comes to deciding if he’s a Hall of Famer or not. Since the DH has been part of the game for 30 years, it seems silly to me for voters to punish a player because he was a DH. And you can make a pretty good argument that Edgar’s the best DH in the history of the sport. What do you think?

Scott Weber of Looking Landing has some good thoughts on Masahiro Tanaka and why the Mariners would be better off spending big bucks to land the Japanese pitcher than on an outfielder like Nelson Cruz. You have to admit, a starting rotation of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Tanaka, Taijuan Walker and Erasmo Ramirez or James Paxton looks pretty good on paper.

And has come up with some projections for the 2014 Seattle Mariners.

Recommended reading: Michael Bramberger of Sports Illustrated wrote a  pretty thought-provoking column about Tiger Woods in November. It all revovled around former Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee writing a piece where he questioned Tiger for being “a little cavalier with the rules.”

Tickets for the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame banquet on Jan. 25 are on sale. They cost $30, not $35 as I wrote in a previous post. Sorry about that.

Bremerton High has cracked the Seattle Times’ Class 2A boys basketball top-10 rankings. The Knights (6-0) are No. 9 this week. I watched the Knights beat Port Angeles before Christmas (look for my story on senior Deonti Dixon on Friday) and this could be a special season if they keep improving. Fundamentally, they’ve got a ways to go on defense, but their quickness makes up for a lot of that.  Keep your eye on these guys. The Associated Press state rankings should be out after the first of the year.

Steve Sarkisian talks about why he left Washington and about winning a national championship at USC.

Don’t know how I missed this one, but I’ve got to share it. You’re a mean one, Marshawn Lynch. This is Dave Ross’ musical tribute to the Seahawks’ running back.

Are you having a tough time getting excited about the Washington Huskies and the Fight Hunger Bowl? Me too.  With the coaching change and the Tosh Lupoi situation and the UW losing out on prize recruit Budda Baker, the bowl game itself seems pretty meaningless. It’ll be interesting to see how Marques Tuiasosopo does as an interim head coach — you can’t help but pull for that guy — and the possibility of a nine-win season, I guess, is a big deal. But the opponent, BYU, doesn’t do it for me. The UW and Cougars, now an independent,  have never met in a bowl game, but they’ve played eight times, six since 1996 (the series is tied 4-4) with BYU winning the last three, including a 23-17 victory the last time the met in 2010.


Thursday links: Lupoi, Seahawks & more

Linking it up on a Thursday morning:

Tosh Lupoi, the Washington Husky footbal assistant accused of violating NCAA rules, will stay on the UW staff for now.

Remember the Seahawks 58-0 blowout over the Cardinals on Dec. 9 of last year? Arizona returns to CenturyLink on Sunday with a chance to avenge that embarrassment as well as end Seattle’s 14-game home winning streak. This could be the Hawks toughest test at the Clink in a while. The Cardinals (9-5) are on a pretty good roll and playing much better than they did earlier this year with Seattle won 34-22 in Arizona. Coach Bruce Arians has created a new era in Arizona.

Byron Maxwell, who has three interceptions in his last two games, is just trying to take advantage of his opportunities. Seahawks secondary coach Kris Richard said this to Clare Farnsworth of “I’m going to tell you something about Byron, he’s very humble, he’s diligent and I don’t think what’s happening to him could happen to a better person. He’s fantastic to be around, and he has been for years. So he’s kind just been sitting back in the wings and waiting for his turn. And here it is.”


Farnesworth also writes about Russell Wilson’s search for consistency.

“I think the No. 1 thing is, first of all, talking it – talking and believing it,” Wilson said. “When I say ‘ignore the noise,’ I really try to just block it all out. I believe in what I say, in terms of just trying to stay focused on the moment, trying to stay focused on the now.

In Joe Posnanski’s mind, before Jackie Robinson, graceful first baseman Buck Leonard was the right man to break the color line in baseball.

Posnanski compared Leonard to Lou Gehrig:

… They shared a certain aura as well as a style of play. Leonard readily admits he tried to copy Gehrig’s style when he became a professional — who better to copy? Gehrig hit with more power, surely, and Leonard was reportedly slicker defensively, but their similarities ran much deeper than their playing styles. They were both steady men without flash, without noticeable egos, with a driving consistency and certain quiet resolve that people around them could not help but admire. Everyone thought the world of Buck Leonard.

Michael Thomas’ story might be the best of the NFL season. A practice squad player with the 49ers, he was sleeping in late after the Niners beat the Seahawks a couple weeks ago and almost slept through a chance to become an active player with the Miami Dolphins. He woke up in time, signed a contract, flew to Miami and ended up making the game-saving interception in the end zone against the Patriots.


Kobe Bryant’s comeback didn’t last long.

Coach on Sark’s staff at UW under investigation

The Los Angeles Times reported that University of Washington assistant Tosh Lupoi is under investigation for possible violations regarding payment for online classes and tutoring for an incoming recruit. It might explain why Lupoi didn’t follow Steve Sarkisian to USC. Lupoi denies any wrongdoing and remains part of Washington’s staff as the Huskies prepare for the Dec. 27 Fight Hunger Bowl.

From the Times:

The allegations surround the recruitment of Andrew Basham, a former defensive lineman at Lynnwood High in Washington, who signed a letter of intent with the Huskies last February but did not qualify academically to enroll.

Mike Davis, a throwing coach who helped Basham win a state shotput title, told The Times that Tosh Lupoi, Washington’s defensive line coach, gave him $3,000 to cover private tutoring for Basham through a test preparation company. Davis said he also received $1,500 from Lupoi to reimburse Basham’s father for online classes Andrew could use to raise his grade-point average.


New UW coach Chris Petersen announced that he would not travel with the team for the Fight Hunger Bowl. Marques Tuiasosopo was named the interim head coach when Sarkisian left for USC and he will remain in charge of the team. … reported that Petersen has hired Brent Pease, his former offensive coordinator at Boise State, to be the Huskies’ OC. Pease was fired at Florida after two seasons with the Gators. He coached from 2006-2011 at Boise State, working with receivers the first five years.


Hammel linked to Cubs, Royals, Pirates and Braves

Jason Hammel, the free-agent pitcher from South Kitsap, is reportedly seeking a three- or four-year deal. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the Cubs, Royals, Pirates and Braves are all interested in the right-hander who spent the last two seasons with Baltimore.

Here’s an report that says the Colorado Rockies are interested in bringing Hammel back. He pitched with the Rockies from 2009-2001.


Four finalists for Central Washington football job

The four finalists for the Central Washington football coaching job includes Skyline High coach Matt Taylor, former Husky assistant and UW/Nevada head coach Chris Tormey, former CWU player and current Eastern Washington associate head coach John Graham and Ian Shoemaker, a top assistant from St. Cloud State in Minnesota. Roger Underwood, a former Kitsap Sun staffer, wrote this story.

Some late night links: Pembo, Mariners & more

Farewell, Pembo. Dave Pemberton, the easy-going, out-going former Bremerton athlete, died Sunday after a three-year battle with cancer.He was 63. We’re gonna miss him.

Mariners get a couple of offensive pieces to go with Robinson Cano. First basemen/outfielders Corey Hart and Logan Morrison are the latest additions. It won’t be official until they pass physicals. GM Jack Zduriencik says they can split time in the OF and at DH and backup Justin Smoak at 1B. I’m a little skeptical of that. I’d be surprised if Smoak is wearing a Seattle uniform this season. The M’s are also reportedly still in on Nelson Cruz, the slugging outfielder who is reportedly good friends with Cano.

The Mariners now have no room for Kendrys Morales or Raul Ibanez, who has been linked to the Angels.

Earl Thomas of the Seahawks says it’s time to re-focus after 49ers game. The 49ers were effective in not letting Thomas dictate the play as he’s often does. Thomas was also guilty of taking a bad angle on the 51-yard run by Frank Gore that set up San Francisco’s game-winning field goal. Maybe not a bad angle. Gore’s cutback was a pretty nifty move by an All-Pro type player. Sometimes you just have to give the other guys credit. Gore also ran by Richard Sherman on the play.

I read about the incredible ending to the Class 4A state championship football game between Chiawana and Camas. Watch it for yourself right here. I picked it up with a little over 2 minutes left and saw all you needed to see. What a comeback. Chiawana scores late, recovers onside kick and scores on last play to win, 27-26.

Home-plate collisions are now a thing of the past after MLB banned players from bowling over catchers at the plate.

Marvin Williams was back in action after missing four games with a heel problem. The Bremerton High grad had 8 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 122-101 win over Sacramento on Wednesday.

Tickets for Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame banquet on sale

The Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame banquet is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 25, at Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo.

Tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 13. Cost is $35 $30 and they’re available at the Baymont Inn & Suites (5640 Kitsap Way, west Bremerton) and Team Sports (1550 NE Riddell Rd., east Bremerton). Cash and checks only will be accepted at the Baymont and at Team Sports. You can also email Kitsap Athletic Roundtable secretary/treasurer Jodee Strickland — — to reserve tickets or write Kitsap Athletic Roundtable, P.O. Box 5707, Bremerton, Wa., 98312, to request tickets. Strickland will mail tickets to those who request them before Christmas by Dec. 31. If you request them after that day, the tickets will be left at will call on the day of the event.

Tickets will be available at the door, but it’s best to rsvp to Strickland or write a letter to the KAR to make reservations.

The Hall of Fame begins with an 11 a.m. social hour. Dinners will be served at noon with the induction ceremony to follow.

Here’s a previous story I wrote about the event. Some of the athletes will be featured as we get closer to the date:

The Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame’s latest class includes the winningest unlimited hydroplane driver in the history of the sport, the first athlete from Kitsap County to compete in the Olympics, an outdoorsman who is a noted mountain climber, author and artist, the voice of the Kitsap Stampede and a competitive men’s soccer team that paved the way for so many others to enjoy the sport in our area.

This will be the 26th Hall of Fame ceremony, but only the ninth year that it has been staged in its present form. Previously, the Kitsap Oldtimers inducted deserving baseball and softball players, coaches, sponsors and umpires. When the Oldtimers disbanded and merged with the KAR, the Hall of Fame was expanded to include all sports.

This year’s class is among the most diverse in history.

The hydroplane driver is Dave Villwock, the South Kitsap grad who announced his retirement in May after a legendary career that included 67 victories — 10 of them Gold Cup wins — and 10 national titles.

Ed Eliason grew up in Poulsbo and became one of the nation’s top archers. He won seven national titles and placed fifth at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

Burley’s Dee Molenaar, 95, is the author of The Challenge of Rainier, considered the definite work on the climbing history of Mount Rainier, where he worked as a park ranger and mountain guide. He climbed Rainier more than 50 times and was involved in several other mountaineering expeditions.

Randy Corley, who moved to Silverdale from North Platte, Neb., 12 years ago, has been voted the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Announcer of the year 11 times and he has been a fixture at the Kitsap Stampede for more than 30 years.

The Bremerton Chuggers — a men’s soccer team — formed in 1974 and played until 2000. They made a major impact on the local soccer scene, and Lance McCoy, one of the founding players, said the Chuggers are thrilled to be going into the local Hall of Fame.

“We’re the first soccer group to ever go in,” McCoy said. “It’s a sport we all cherish and love, and you can’t know what an honor it is to be inducted into this group of incredible athletes. For us, it’s kind of a culmination of 27 years of work.

“ … There wasn’t a lot of soccer in this area when we started and to see where it is now, it’s rewarding. So many of our players have given back and are now in the coaching ranks.”

Two other teams will be inducted: the 1951 Bremerton High football team, which was unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in the state before losing 14-13 to Ballard in the annual Thanksgiving Day game in Seattle and the 1984 Suquamish slowpitch team that won a national championship.

Other athletes and coaches voted in include:

Mark Rill: Former South Kitsap star helped the Wolves to the state finals in 1981 and to the semifinals in his senior year in 1982. He went on to have a standout career at Pacific Lutheran as an offensive tackle (brother David, already in the Kitsap HOF, was a linebacker at Washington).

Gary Rouse: The Bremerton drag racer made a name for himself as one of the top competitors in the sportsman class. For years, he drove a ’65 Chevelle in the SS/M automatic class and he more than held his own when he matched up against the best in the nation.

Allison Eoff: One of the top competitive female bowlers in Kitsap County history, she’s also been a good ambassador for the sport and handled various administrative roles.

Kerry Keefe: Former Bainbridge basketball star — she averaged 18.6 points her senior year and is the career leader in rebounds for the Spartans — started two years at Georgetown University.

Chris Thorsen: Former Central Kitsap athlete was one of the best athletes of his era, starring in basketball and track and field, where he ran the half-mile. Thorsen has coached several years during his teaching career.

Ernie Hahn: Longtime junior high coach — baseball, football and wrestling — in Port Orchard impacted a lot of lives during his career. He also worked as an assistant football coach at South Kitsap when Ed Fisher was the head man.

Mike Welch: Bainbridge girls basketball coach established a successful program, leading the Spartans to second-, sixth- and third-place finishes in his first three seasons.

John Ross: Smart, quick and aggressive, Ross was the leading rusher at West High, Olympic College, where he earned honorable mention All-American honors, and at Central Washington, where he rushed for 1,119 yards in two seasons.

Jerome Walker: A state sprint champion at West High in 1978 and ’79, Walker went on to have a standout career at one of the elite track and field programs in the country — the University of Oregon.

Bonnie Burmaster: Former Olympic Aquatic Club coached worked with youth swimmers in the area for 27 years before retiring in 2009. Among her students: Olympians Tara and Dana Kirk, and Nathan Adrian.

Frankie Lee: One of the top roller hockey players and coaches in U.S. history, Lee was on the U.S. National team from 1984-99, and still coaches the USA Ladies National team that usually includes a handful of players from his Bremerton Hurricanes team.

The Rex Brown Distinguished Service Award will be awarded to the Carlson family, which has owned and operated Minder Meats for years and been huge contributors to the community. Jim Carlson Sr., was also a standout lineman on the ’51 Bremerton High football team and past president of the Kitsap Athletic Roundtable, as was his son Jim Carlson, Jr. Marlyn Carlson was among the first female members to join the KAR.

The Dick Todd Award goes to a sports official and this year’s honoree is Jim Lamont, who got into officiating basketball because of Todd.



Cowboys getting ready to rock ‘n roll in Vegas

Some of my favorite athletes — the cowboys who compete in the PRCA — are gathering in Las Vegas for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

The annual awards banquet is tonight and Silverdale’s Randy Corley, the voice of the Kitsap Stampede, is up for announcer of the year. He’s an 11-time winner. Haley Schneeberger, a familiar face at the Kitsap Stampede, is up for rodeo secretary of the year. Corley, in case you missed it, is also being inducted into the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame on Jan. 25 at Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo.

I’ve been to the NFR  three times — first in the early 1990s when Silverdale’s Clint Corey was challenging for a world title in bareback and twice when the Kitsap Stampede was nominated for Pro Rodeo of the Year.  Corey is a Hall of Famer who now serves as supervisor of officials for the PRCA.

If you’re a rodeo fan, you need to put this event on your bucket list. The cowboys and livestock are the best in their game, and the cowboys are among the most approachable athletes in professional sports. There’s a pretty good chance that you’ll bump into your favorites in Vegas.

I just took a quick look at the 2013 Kitsap Stampede results and some of the cowboys you watched compete at Thunderbird Stadium in late August qualified for the NFR. Cheney’s Ryan Gray, who won the Stampede’s bareback title, goes into the finals as the No. 4-ranked rider. Dakota Eldridge, who was second in steer wrestling at the Stampede, slipped in to the NFR at the No. 15 spot. Only the top 15 make it, but once you get there the money is so good that it’s possible to go from No. 15 to No. 1 over the 10-day rodeo.

The top three saddle bronc riders at the Stampede — Jacobs Crawley, Sterling Crawley and Taos Muncey — enter the NFR ranked Nos. 5, 15 and 11, respectively.

Bull rider Cooper Davis, second at the Stampede, is No. 7 in the world rankings going into Thursday’s first round at Thomas & Mack Center.

And then there’s Trevor Brazille, the Texan who’s No. 1 in the all-around with $255,187 already in his pocket. Brazille, going for a record  19th world championship, placed fourth at the Kitsap Stampede in the tie-down roping event.

All rounds are broadcast by the Great American Country network at 7 p.m. and re-aired the following day at 10 a.m. and 3 a.m.

For your rodeo information, go to

Other storylines for the NFR, coursey the PRCA:

  • Bobby Mote has the lead in the bareback riding world standings and will be trying for a record-tying fifth gold buckle against a field that includes two-time defending World Champion Kaycee Feild and three-time World Champion Will Lowe. That trio has accounted for nine of the last 11 titles.
  • Casey Martin is the only one of the contestants on top of the world standings entering the WNFR who has not won a gold buckle previously. He showed his readiness last year when he finished second in the WNFR steer wrestling average and second in the world. This season he”s led the world standings every week but one since January.
  • Team roping header Chad Masters was injured early in the year and is the only 2012 champion who cannot defend his title in Las Vegas. Masters” partner during the part section of 2013, reigning heeling world champion Jade Corkill, hooked up with 2005 World Champion Clay Tryan and just kept on rolling. Tryan and Corkill arrive at the Thomas & Mack Center on top of the standings in an extremely tight battle with Kaleb Driggers and Travis Graves.
  • Cody Wright”s first gold buckle in 2008 was chronicled by a group of documentary filmmakers and his brother, Jesse”s, first world title a year ago was filmed by the same crew for a revised edition of the film. This time it will be Cody, Jesse and Jesse”s twin brother, Jake – they are 1, 2 and 7 in the world standings – all going after it. The New York Times is sending a reporter to follow the family drama.
  • Two-time defending champion Tuf Cooper has the largest lead in any of the individual events (more than $37,000 over Tyson Durfey) as he tries to become the first tie-down roper to win three consecutive world championships since his ProRodeo Hall of Fame dad, Roy, won five in a row from 1980-84.
  • Bull rider J.W. Harris is highly motivated to end his string of near misses – he finished just $1,056 behind fellow Texan Cody Teel last year and was second to Shane Proctor in 2011 – at two and get back to his accustomed spot at the top. Harris won world championships every year from 2008-10 and leads the field by more than $30,000 entering this Wrangler NFR.

Who should be UW’s next coach? Here’s some suggestions

Possible candidates to consider when thinking about whom the Washington Huskies will turn to after football coach Steve Sarkisian announced that he was leaving to take the job at USC:

Jim Mora, currently head man at UCLA. Was a walk-on at Washington and former head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks. While in Atlanta, he once made the mistake of saying in an on-air interview that Washington was his dream job. It ultimately cost him his job with the Falcons. Mora has done a masterful job turning UCLA into a potential powerhouse. He seems like a good fit at the UW. Larry Stone of the Seattle Times writes that Mora is the perfect choice, but Jack Wang of the LA Daily News seems to think that Mora would only use the UW opening for leverage to get a better deal for himself and his assistants at UCLA. Here’s another view: If Mora bolts for Washington, it’ll be because of UCLA’s incompetent AD.

Gary Pinkel, currently the head coach at Missouri. The Don James-disciple and former UW assistant has the Tigers ranked No. 5 in the country and he’s been linked to the Washington job before. Pinkel, 61, would be a popular choice with Washington’s boosters who have been unable to distance themselves from the James years. Pinkel, however, has a pretty good thing going while competing in the SEC, the best conference in college football.

Chris Petersen, Boise State. Who wouldn’t want this guy? He’s 92-12 in eight seasons with the Broncos. Petersen’s been linked to a lot of jobs in the past, including the USC job. He reportedly withdrew his name from consideration over the weekend. Petersen’s not a high-profile guy, and Washington seems like a lot better fit than USC for the guy who has been one of the most sought-after coaches in college football in recent years. This is the first year during his tenure that the Broncos never cracked the top-25 rankings.

James Franklin, Vanderbilt. Franklin, 41, is one of the rising stars in college football.  He was also linked to the USC job for a while. Former Washington State grad assistant is a charismatic leader and recruiter. Don’t know if the Husky job would interest him. Vandy is 17-8 in his two years and 9-7 in the SEC.

Beau Baldwin, Eastern Washington. Doubtful he’s the right guy for Washington right now, but he seems to be on a path that will take him to a BCS school someday. He repeated as Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year.

Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson. Third-year assistant at Clemson, a graduate of Texas A&M, has been linked to the Texas job if the Longhorns part ways with Mack Brown. At $1.3 million, he’s the nation’s highest-paid assistant. He was also named the American Football Coaches Association’s assistant coach of the year, by his peers.

Doug Nussmeier, offensive coordinator, Alabama. If Washington decided to go with a coach without head coaching experience, this guy might be at the top of the list. He was a former coordinator at Washington under Sarkisian for three years and is considered an excellent quarterback coach and one of the best offensive minds in the game. The Nussmeier bio, according to Wikipedia.

Justin Wilcox, defensive coordinator, Washington. Another candidate without head-coashing experience, but he’s built a pretty good reputation during coaching stops at Boise State, Tennessee and Washington. Reportedly going to USC with Sarkisian, but Some wonder if he has the personality to deal with the boosters and media?

Tom Cable, offensive line coach, Seattle Seahawks. Snohomish native was head coach of the Oakland Raiders from 2008 to 2010 and also served as head coach at Idaho. Timing’s bad as the Huskies need someone right now because of the recruiting game.

Whoever ends up coaching the Huskies won’t have a chance to coach against USC and Sarkisian until 2015. The Pac-12 schools didn’t play this year, and don’t play in 2014 either.