A Gig Harbor resident is digging through the archives to unearth some local sports history.
Kenny Via, an online producer for The News Tribune and a 1996 graduate of Peninsula High School, is working to compile the all-time football records for both the Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools.
Via started working at the TNT inputting stats and scores into the agate section of the paper. A few years ago, as the overnight online editor, Via worked until about 3 a.m., monitoring the website overnight.
“I’d get done at like 3 a.m. after my shift and I started doing some research and started seeing what I could find out,” Via said.
Via, 37, played at Peninsula High School in the mid-90s. His senior season was Ross Filkins’ first year as head coach.
“I was just curious,” Via said. “I have a lot of admiration and respect for both programs and thought it’d be cool to put together the historic archive of their records, league titles. I didn’t think it’d be as much work as it is.”
Here are some things that stood out about Via’s findings, which aren’t 100 percent complete — yet.
THE FISH BOWL
The Fish Bowl started in 1979, Gig Harbor’s first year as a football program. Heading into this season, Gig Harbor has a 20-16 edge over Peninsula in the Fish Bowl. But the longest stretch of dominance actually belongs to Peninsula. From 1984 to 1992, Peninsula won nine straight.
“The ’93 team, we were going for the decade of dominance in the Fish Bowl,” Via said.
But Peninsula had to go up against up-and-coming coach Steve Gervais, who not only won the 1993 Fish Bowl, but turned the Tides’ program around completely. Gervais led the Tides to a Pierce County League Title and state runner-up finish that year. Gervais later went on to coach at Rogers in Puyallup and most notably, Skyline, where he compiled at 94-22 record and led the Spartans to three state championships.
Current Peninsula coach Ross Filkins, who has had remarkable success in his tenure, has had a tough time in the Fish Bowl, posting a 6-14 overall record. The losing record can likely be attributed, at least in part, to Gig Harbor High’s growth. The Tides jumped to the 4A classification and have a much larger base to draw from than Peninsula, which competes in the 3A classification.
“I think that has a lot do with,” Via said. “He’s had to deal with that: Gig Harbor outgrowing Peninsula. Two years ago, in (Peninsula Youth Football), my buddy was telling me there was one Peninsula team and two or three Tides teams.”
The Fish Bowl is now the first game of the season and doesn’t count toward the league standings. This wasn’t always the case. Previously, Gig Harbor and Peninsula were in the Pierce County League together, and the Fish Bowl was the last game of the season. It often had league-title implications.
“I’ve talked to some of the kids — these kids all root for each other,” Via said. “They all get along. We used to hate each other. I think it’s cause we were in the same league. Having it as a non-league game, maybe it softened it. It’s still for pride; the community loves it. It’s still a great event. But there’s a difference if you’ve played an entire season and the playoffs are on the line.”
FILKINS WILL GO DOWN AS PENINSULA’S BEST EVER
Ignore the Fish Bowl record. Via said he’s 99.9 percent sure Filkins is the winningest coach in the program’s history. Filkins has compiled a 117-82 record since taking over in 1995. While his first decade as head coach was generally average with some bad years mixed in, the past decade has seen dominance from Filkins’ program. Since 2006, Peninsula has posted a 69-27 record, qualifying for the playoffs every year.
“It’s amazing what Filkins has done — it’s phenomenal,” Via said. “To turn the program around after the first decade, he’s a legend with everyone I talk to. It’s Roy Anderson Field, but it should be Ross Filkins Stadium someday.”
THE STATE TITLE BELONGS TO THE SEAHAWKS
Gig Harbor is still seeking its first state title. So far, only Peninsula can boast the state’s top prize. The Seahawks won the 1978 state title, beating Pullman, 35-34, in the Class 2A state championship (at that time, 3A was the state’s largest classification). The Seahawks were coached by Larry Lunke, who posted a dominant 36-8 record during his four years as head coach, from 1976-79. During his time, the Seahawks were 8-2 in the state playoffs.
“When I was at Peninsula, it had a long tradition of winning, to my knowledge. They’d always talk about the Larry Lunke years of the state title,” Via said. “I heard a lot about the tradition of Peninsula. Of course, they didn’t talk about the bad seasons.”
FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT
Both programs appear to be in good hands. Filkins has established himself as one of the state’s top coaches, and relative newcomer Aaron Chantler has the Tides in the conversation for this year’s Class 4A state title. So far, Chantler has posted a 20-12 record. The Tides have only lost five games in the past two years.
Via hopes to complete his findings soon. He’ll keep following each program’s progress.
“I just love high school sports,” Via said. “Every Friday night is fun ... we’ve got calls coming in and we’re tracking games from everywhere. Trying to predict who’s going to beat who and stuff like that, it’s a lot of fun.”