With two games left to play in the regular season, this Timberline High School football team is on the cusp of repeating as Class 3A South Sound Conference champions.
But, coach Nick Mullen doesn’t want to think that far ahead just yet.
“We’re in a good spot,” he said. “But, anyone can beat anyone on Friday night.”
Seven weeks in, though, no team has topped Timberline.
Another convincing win over Gig Harbor on Friday night in Purdy has the eighth-ranked Blazers (7-0, 5-0) alone at the top of the 3A SSC standings, with North Thurston and Peninsula remaining on the schedule.
Hunter Campau and Ty Edmond scored two touchdowns apiece, and the Blazers played three quarters of shutout football to remain undefeated with a 27-10 win over the Tides at Roy Anderson Field.
“We knew it was going to be a tough environment here,” junior Colton Steepy said. “The student section is big, loud. We prepared for this all week.”
And, though the Blazers gave up a pair of early scores in the first quarter, their sturdy defense — which is allowing just 9 points per game this season — left little room for doubt in the final three frames.
“They’re really physical,” said Gig Harbor coach George Fairhart. “They just physically pound it. But we stood up to them really well, early in the game. We didn’t give up big plays. They just physically outmanned us.”
Steepy picked off Gig Harbor quarterback Ryan Baerg early in the second quarter, and scored the game-winning touchdown a minute later.
Michael Barnes — who rushed for a game-high 150 yards on 19 carries — picked up 33 yards on consecutive attempts to set the Blazers up at the 10.
Campau found Steepy alone in the back of the end zone two plays later for a 6-yard score with nine minutes, 46 seconds to play in the first half.
Gig Harbor never reached the red zone after that drive.
Timberline held Gig Harbor to negative rushing yards, and dropped the Tides behind the line of scrimmage 10 times.
Forced turnovers twice led to Blazers touchdowns.
Timberline took an early lead on a 3-yard touchdown plunge by Campau in the first quarter before the Tides answered with scores on back-to-back drives.
Ben Hollenbeck beat Steepy down the sideline, and Baerg found him for a 46-yard touchdown to tie the score.
Hollenbeck, who has played some quarterback for the Tides again this season, hauled in 116 yards and the touchdown on seven catches.
“It’s big,” Fairhart said. “We know Ben is an explosive football player, it’s just a matter of how we want to get him the ball and how we can get him the ball. We know what he’s capable of.”
Gig Harbor took its only lead with a minute to play in the first quarter when Logan Kinney connected for a 34-yard field goal.
Steepy intercepted Baerg’s pass three minutes later before eventually scoring the winning touchdown.
Baerg finished 16 of 27 for 217 yards, with the one touchdown and interception.
But, the Blazers limited the Tides to just 62 yards through the air in the second half.
Edmond, primarily a middle linebacker, added two rushing touchdowns of 8 and 2 yards in the second half to help the Blazers pull away.
Timberline combined for 262 yards on the ground, with five players contributing carries.
Gig Harbor remained within striking distance until midway the fourth quarter when a fumble at midfield set Timberline up for its final score with five minutes to play.
Edmond stamped the eight-play drive, powering 2 yards up the middle to push Timberline’s lead to three scores with 1:13 remaining.
Baerg is the latest Gig Harbor Tide to ride the quarterback carousel, and seems to have solidified himself as the starter going forward, for now.
“He’s our quarterback right now,” Fairhart said. “He went in against Shelton and sparked us and was throwing with good timing and rhythm. So we went with Baerg. He’s our guy right now.”
Gig Harbor finishes its season with games against Capital at home on Friday night and on the road against North Thurston on Oct. 27. The Tides still have a shot at a playoff berth.
“I still think we’re getting better every week,” Fairhart said. “We have to continue to improve. Capital has some weapons. We have to get through them and then North Thurston. We need to go 2-0 to have a chance.”
CENTRAL KITSAP 13, PENINSULA 0
The Seahawks were stunned on the road Thursday night against the Cougars, losing 13-0. It was Peninsula’s first league loss of the season, falling to 4-1 in league play.
Quarterback Burke Griffin went 14 of 26 for 144 yards and a pick. The Seahawks’ running game was held in check by the Cougars, with only senior Michael Foreman eclipsing 50 yards rushing. He rushed for 54 yards on seven carries.
Alex Beloate led the Seahawks in receiving with four catches for 69 yards. Sophomore Chase Wittmers chipped in three catches for 40 yards.
The loss sets up a crucial league showdown this week on the road against Yelm, which is also 4-1 in league.
Gateway sports editor Jon Manley contributed to this story.