Josiah Bronson and Kyle Capperauld discussed the future of Kentwood High School football among a gathering of their current teammates. They were freshmen at the time, but already talking about undefeated seasons, breaking records and turning heads.
“We just decided that we were going to be the baddest team to come through Kentwood — the most dominant class ever,” said Capperauld, a senior defensive lineman. “We knew that if we stayed together, we were going to be pretty good.”
Through the first five games, Kentwood had allowed 30 points — the fewest of any 4A team in the state. That’s more than one point per game better than the school record of 7.2 for the 2000 season, when Kentwood reached the state championship for the second time in a four-year span.
And running the ball? The Conks were holding opponents to 1.3 yards per carry through the first five games before Federal Way handed Kentwood its first loss, 14-10, Thursday night as the Eagles rushed 31 times for 204 yards. However, Federal Way’s Chico McClatcher, who set the 4A South Puget Sound League record with 397 yards the week prior against Decatur, was held to 84 yards on 13 carries.
Kentwood coach Rex Norris said this is the most athletic group of defensive linemen he’s ever had in 19 years — and two state titles — at the school.
Bronson and Capperauld anchor the defense. Bronson is a 6-foot-5, 255-pound defensive tackle and Capperauld a 5-11, 230-pound nose guard.
“If you watch us on film, we don’t ever take a play off,” Bronson said. “You’ll see our defensive ends coming from the backside of the play to make a play. We just never give up.”
The third starter is converted third-string linebacker Derise “Bubba” Fuga. The 6-2, 245-pound senior holds Kentwood’s single-game record with 19 tackles in one game.
Davonte Sanchez (6-3, 200) and first-year Conqueror Jared Goldwire (6-8, 300) — who began his high school career at Lakes — round out the rotation, subbing in every three plays.
The group is certainly on pace to be Kentwood’s baddest ever. But it’s little coincidence that as Bronson has emerged, the defensive line has posted historic results.
Four years ago, he said he couldn’t have cared less about football.
“Back in the eighth grade, I was this lazy kid,” Bronson said. “I didn’t like football that much, to be honest. I was a basketball player.
“But my parents kept telling me, ‘You can be anything you want to be.’ And then Coach Norris, ever since I walked into Kentwood High School, he’s told me I could be a great guy on this team.”
Now he hopes to follow his older brothers and play college football. His oldest brother, John, went to Penn State and played for the Arizona Cardinals as a tight end from 2005-06. Demitrius holds Kentwood’s career rushing mark with 3,810 yards, played at the University of Washington and Eastern Washington University and is currently on the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad.
“When we do sprints, (Josiah) is 35 pounds heavier than me, but he still keeps up with me, which makes me kind of mad because I used to be able to just kill him,” Capperauld said. “And he actually uses technique now, even though he really never had to. Now he’s a monster instead of just a freak.”
Said Norris: “Josiah has the most raw athleticism of anybody I’ve ever coached. He can jump like anybody, he can run like anyone, he’s got size, he’s got strength. If Jo goes really hard, it’s difficult for anybody else to do anything about it.”
But then there’s Capperauld — Kentwood’s smallest, but arguably most crucial defensive lineman.
He looks like a sardine when he’s got Bronson to his left and Goldwire on the right. It’s unconventional. Most nose guards are tall and wide and plug gaps.
So why Capperauld?
“I have always wondered that,” he said. “But I’ve never asked because I’m obviously doing something right if I’ve been playing the same spot since the first game of my sophomore year.”
Norris insisted there’s too much at stake to start a player for the fun of it. He said Capperauld — who also does wrestling, soccer and rugby — has simply outworked every other player since his sophomore year.
“That’s what separated him back then and he’s been doing the same thing ever since,” Norris said of the two-time all-SPSL nose guard.
Capperauld doesn’t typically run straight ahead anyway. He more often than not will do a stunt, looping around the end, or crossing with another lineman.
But even if the offensive lineman were a grizzly bear, Capperauld says he could still make a play.
“I’ve beaten Josiah in one-on-ones, and Jared too,” Capperauld said. “So I think I could handle a grizzly.”
Norris said the defensive line is the reason Kentwood has more than doubled its interception total from last season. They have 11 through five games, compared to five all of last season. Better pressure on the quarterback this year has forced the ball to come out sooner, and bigger linemen — specifically the addition of Goldwire — makes quarterbacks throw the ball higher.
Goldwire started his career at Lakes, transferred to O’Dea and is now at Kentwood, where his father is a coach on the track team. Norris said the Goldwires were staying at an apartment complex that burned down at 2 a.m. Oct. 3 — the same day Kentwood faced Tahoma. Goldwire still played and the Conquerors shut out Tahoma, 28-0.
Norris said Goldwire’s family was awaiting help from Red Cross and has been living with friends in the meantime.
No team has scored more against Kentwood than 14 — which occured Week 2 against Emerald Ridge and Thursday against Federal Way.
Emerald Ridge coach Troy Halfaday singled out Bronson and Capperauld.
“They are smart players and they play disciplined,” Halfaday said. “They trust their buddies behind them to do their jobs, and consequently (for us) the plays naturally came their way and they executed.
“Their size coupled with speed and strength makes a good combination.”
Good? That could be an understatement.
So far, they’ve been Kentwood’s baddest.