LEE HORTON'S SPORTS NOTES: Neah Bay football, Peninsula College soccer top Peninsula sports stories of 2013

By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News

I'M A FIRM BELIEVER that number-one rankings should not be shared.

One is supposed to be a lonely number, especially at the top.

If it is your job to make a decision, then do your job and make it.

However, as I look back on the year in North Olympic Peninsula sports, I am going to violate my own rule by awarding the top sports story of 2013 to the Neah Bay football team and the soccer teams of Peninsula College. (Technically, I guess I am awarding the No. 1 spot to three teams, so I'm really compromising my values.)

It's too difficult to place the Red Devils' second Class 1B state championship in three years over the double-repeat NWAACC titles of the Peninsula College men's and women's teams, or vice versa.

All three teams were favorites to win their titles, so none had an out-of-nowhere championship run.

All three were dominate throughout the season, though the road to glory became tougher in the postseason, with all three receiving tough draws in the playoffs.

The Pirates teams had the double-repeat angle, which had never been done in NWAACC soccer.

Neah Bay, meanwhile, was a bit of a redemption tale.

After falling short of a repeat on the last play of the 2012 state championship game, as well as losing the 2013 1B state basketball title, the Red Devils dedicated themselves even more to winning the 2013 championship.

“We had to win. It was our senior year, we just had to come in there and win. We had to dominate every team,” quarterback Josiah Greene, who was awarded his second 1B state player of the year, said after Neah Bay beat Touchet 36-18 in the championship game.

“That why everyone was working so hard all summer: We just wanted to dominate every team.”

The hard work paid off, as Neah Bay won every game by at least 18 points — even in the playoffs with many players slowed by injuries.

The Peninsula soccer squads had more close games than the Red Devils, but they were nearly as dominant.

The Pirate men didn't lose a game all season (21-0-2). The women lost two nonleague matches to larger Canadian schools early in the season, but where unbeatable thereafter, finishing with a 20-2 record.

Peninsula's double-repeat is so impressive, it was voted top soccer story in Washington by the website www.goalWA.net, receiving nearly twice as many votes as Clint Dempsey's signing with the Seattle Sounders.

See what I mean? Choosing between Peninsula College and Neah Bay is like choosing a favorite child.

So, they share this year's top spot.

Here are the rest of the top 12 Peninsula sports stories of 2013:

3. Forks 10U softball team wins region: Now this was an out-of-nowhere story.

First, Forks went to Othello and dominated the state tournament by outscoring their opponents 85-3 win winning its first state championship.

A few weeks later, the team won its first region championship by outscoring opponents 41-9 in Meridian, Idaho.

They were honored with a parade through town and the promise of a sign at the north end of town declaring their achievement.

Pretty good for a bunch of 10-year-old girls.

4. Napiontek drafted by Rangers: I had no idea I was supposed to follow the Major League Baseball draft in June.

Then Easton Napiontek, a 2012 Port Angeles graduate, was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 34th round, following a year at Lower Columbia College.

According to MiLB.com, the official website of Minor League Baseball, Napiontek was 2-0 with a 1.25 ERA in 21.2 innings for the Rangers' rookie league team.

5. Brocklesby wins state: It was a great year to be Jayson Brocklesby

In May, the Sequim senior won the 2A state high jump championship with a jump of 6 feet, 5 inches.

And a few months earlier . . .

6. Sequim hoops takes sixth at state: With Brocklesby averaging 20.4 points per game, the Wolves earned their highest state finish since 1988 and first since 2001.

Brocklesby became the second-leading scorer in school history, trailing only Ryan Kaps.

Gabe Carter, meanwhile, became Sequim's career leader in rebounds and assists.

7. Quilcene girls: Quilcene earned fourth place in the 1B state softball tournament and eighth place at the volleyball tournament.

There's more to come, too, as the Rangers accomplished both with only a couple seniors.

8. Morales finishes second at state: Forks wrestler Miguel Morales had quite the debut.

He joined the Spartans wrestling team last year and ended up taking second in Class 1A in the heavyweight division.

9. Pirates get new captain: After three seasons at Peninsula College, including an NWAACC championship in his first season, men's head basketball coach Lance Von Vogt moved on to William Jessup College, an NAIA Division II school in Rocklin, Nevada.

After a month-long national search, Peninsula College hired Mitch Freeman as Von Vogt's successor.

Freeman comes to the Pirates from California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, where he was an assistant coach.

So far, he has led Peninsula to a 6-3 record heading into North Division play, which begins Saturday at Whatcom.

10. Pirates break records: High school teammates Taylor Larson and Karli Brakes came to Peninsula College from Juneau, Alaska, and rewrote the Pirates record book.

Larson set new marks for points scored in a game, season and career.

Brakes broke the single-game and career assist records.

11. Golf teams place at state: The Port Angeles boys golf team achieved the best state finish in coach Mark Mitrovich's 27 years at the school by taking fourth at the Class 2A tournament in May.

In the 1A ranks, the Chimacum boys finished sixth.

12. Death of Drexler Doherty: Since I arrived on the Peninsula nearly two years ago, the name Drexler Doherty has come up a lot in conversations about prep sports.

The former Neah Bay basketball star died in October at the age of 21.

His legend was so big that during halftime of the Neah Bay-Lummi football game on Oct. 4, I thought to myself, “I wonder if Drexler Doherty is here.”

I'm sure he was, but I didn't know what he looked like.

Less than a week later, he died.

It was a rough year for Neah Bay, who also lost former volleyball coach Jack Winn and former football and basketball player Keaton Hawkins.

Others we lost this year (at least that I'm aware of): Former Clallam Bay football player Austin Ritter and Peninsula Daily News Sports Editor Brad LaBrie.

________

Sports Editor Lee Horton can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at lhorton@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 01. 2014 10:04AM
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