One year ago, the Peninsula High School football team spent much of its offseason pondering who would start at quarterback.
Enter Burke Griffin. He took the job and ran with it, leading Peninsula to a 10-2 record and a 3A state quarterfinals berth where they fell to Meadowdale 34-29 after toppling Stadium and Mountain View.
Playoff football is nothing new for the Seahawks, who qualified for the state tournament four times in the last five years under long-time coach Ross Filkins. Now, with their starting quarterback having a year of experience, Filkins is ready for them to take the next step.
“Going to the playoffs is great and the wins are great, but we’re to the point now as a program that we want to grow past that,” Filkins said. “We want to push the season out as far as we can.”
Griffin is being counted on to lead that charge.
He said the game has slowed down for him as he enters perhaps his final season with Peninsula. Griffin moved to Ireland as a sophomore and is technically a senior. Although he will graduate with the 2019 class, he could be reclassified as a junior, if the WIAA accepts his appeal.
“Obviously it’s nice to get another year to grow and the physical side is much easier for me now. But for the mental side, the extra year is the biggest advantage I have,” he said.
Filkins liked how Griffin handled himself in 2016 and then set out to get even better for this season.
“Burke has done a good job being a field general for us,” Filkins said. “He’s grown tremendously. I don’t know if we have a returning player that has improved as much as Burke. He’s a great leader for us. He’s (worked on his) athleticism and body and has built himself up in the last nine months.”
Griffin won’t have to do it all himself.
In the passing game, slot receiver Alex Beloate is a speedy and exciting option. Griffin raved about starting tailback Braeden Potter, while Filkins said Potter was a tough and fluid runner and will give the team offensive balance.
Potter will also play a significant role on defense as a safety. Filkins said heart and soul of the defense is middle linebacker Joe Weron, who is currently recovering from an injury but could be back in time for the season opener.
Weron’s presence would be a boost considering the Seahawks are facing Mt. Spokane, a younger team that still can claim four straight league titles, at refurbished Roy Anderson Field. The school’s field got new turf this summer.
“It was super exciting to come out on our new field,” Griffin said. “We love Purdy and that definiutely adds a level of excitement.”