Conference re-alignment has drastically changed the landscape of athletics in the south sound. Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools will be part of the newly-formed Class 3A South Sound Conference in the upcoming school year.
With so much uncertainty, it should create some compelling new matchups this football season. Here are a few games to keep an eye on this season.
Peninsula at Mt. Spokane, Friday
No, this isn’t a league game. And no, a loss here wouldn’t ruin Peninsula’s season, by any means. But the game should answer some early questions.
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First, who will be Peninsula’s starting quarterback? The QB competition should be about settled by now, and whoever the starter is will have a tough task in his first game, playing 300 miles away from Roy Anderson Field against a traditionally strong program.
If the starter performs well, or at least competently, the quarterback situation becomes fairly clear. But if the starter struggles immensely, it will be worth keeping an eye on in future games, at the very least.
Secondly, can Peninsula return to form?
It will too early to make any judgments after one game, but the Seahawks are hungry to bounce back after a disappointing, up-and-down 2015 season. The Seahawks get a chance at a fresh start on Friday night, and a win would set the tone for the season.
Gig Harbor vs Squalicum, Friday at Roy Anderson Field
Haven’t heard of the Bellingham-located high school? Well, the Storm are no joke. Squalicum posted an undefeated regular season in 2015 — mostly in blowouts. The only close games were in a 2-0 win against Meridian, a 42-30 win over Sedro-Woolley and a 12-7 win over Ferndale.
Yes, these are smaller schools, but the dominating fashion in which Squalicum worked through its schedule is hard to ignore. Pair that with the fact that Gig Harbor’s roster is almost completely new, and this will be an extremely difficult early test for the Tides.
Like Peninsula, Gig Harbor will be breaking in a new quarterback. We’ll see who it is on Friday night. One thing is certain: He’ll have his hands full.
Fish Bowl, Sept. 16 at Roy Anderson Field
Yes, there are plenty of new matchups in the South Sound Conference. But with the exception of Gig Harbor, none of the teams in the newly-formed league were particularly dominant last season. Given Peninsula’s proud, winning tradition under coach Ross Filkins and Gig Harbor’s explosion over the last few seasons, this instantly becomes the most compelling game on the league’s schedule.
Oh yeah, and it’s Fish Bowl.
Even with the game not counting for the league standings, Fish Bowl is always a special affair. Add potential league title implications to the game, and the intensity ramps up even more. Instead of being the first game of the schedule — like recently — Fish Bowl doesn’t come until week three this season, which means we’ll already have answers to some questions before the big game.