Anyone who follows this year’s Peninsula High School football team knows the Seahawks can run the ball. And that’s what they do — most of the time. Until teams figure it out how to stop it, it’s what they’ll keep doing. It works.
But Peninsula (3-0 overall, 1-0 South Sound Conference 3A) isn’t completely one dimensional. When opposing defenses stack the box, Peninsula’s play-action pass can be deadly. That’s where 5-foot-8 junior receiver Alex Beloate comes in.
He’s not the tallest player on the field, or the biggest. But what he does have is speed. And he used that to his advantage Friday night in this year’s annual Fish Bowl rivalry game against Gig Harbor, burning the Tides for 111 yards and two touchdowns on five catches.
“I was just in shock — I haven’t had a game like that,” Beloate said. “It felt awesome.”
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Beloate should have plenty more opportunities this season to make his mark. And it helps having senior quarterback Ryder Johnson back, who can throw the ball a country mile.
111 receiving yards tallied by Peninsula receiver Alex Beloate vs. Gig Harbor
“Ryder has got a cannon,” Peninsula coach Ross Filkins said. “Throwing off his back foot and throwing it 40, 50 yards, he’s special in that way.”
Up by 20 points in the fourth quarter, Peninsula was about ready to shut the door on Gig Harbor in the Fish Bowl. With a heavy dose of the run game throughout the night, Peninsula went to play-action. Gig Harbor bit, and Beloate split the safeties and ran under the ball.
“Money,” he said of Johnson’s throw, which turned into a 62-yard touchdown. It was the final nail in the coffin, as the Seahawks cruised to a 33-7 victory .
The win for Peninsula snapped a three-game losing streak in the Fish Bowl, and got the Seahawks off to a 1-0 start in their new league. For Filkins, it’s just another win.
“It feels no different than it did last week or the week before that,” the coach said. “We just play one game at a time. It’s not about last year or records, it doesn’t matter. These rivalry games, you just take them one play at a time.”
Peninsula once again used its bruising ground game to wear its opponent down. The Seahawks led Gig Harbor (1-2, 0-1 SSC 3A) 20-7 at half, and built just kept adding to it in the second half. Senior running back Kenny Easton led the Seahawks with 130 yards on 20 carries, while senior Blake Cantu chipped in 61 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
“The kids are doing a good job executing,” Filkins said. “With our offense, we love to assert our running game.”
And the Seahawks got the vertical passing game going, too. Johnson split time with junior quarterback Burke Griffin, who also played well. Johnson was just happy to be back on the field with his teammates.
“It was great, I loved it,” he said. “It was brutal (not playing the first two games). I just wanted to be down on the field, playing with them.”
For Gig Harbor, it was a familiar story: The Tides had chances, but too many turnovers. Gig Harbor committed three turnovers, one of which was an interception deep in the red zone.
“The QBs tried really hard but struggled with our reads tonight,” said Gig Harbor coach Aaron Chantler. “You can’t win when you turn the ball over. That’s a good Peninsula game. It felt like the game was close for a while. But again, a turnover in the red zone is a death sentence.”
Filkins was beaming after the game.
“We love this game; we love each other,” he said. “Our kids play so hard for each other. All we want to do is go 1-0 (every week).”