Down by 17 points at the half to crosstown rival Peninsula High School on Friday night, Gig Harbor coach Aaron Chantler’s message to the Tides was simple.
Step it up.
The Tides answered the call, clawing their way back into the annual Fish Bowl football game behind a breakout performance from junior running back Adrian Valona and a revived defense. Gig Harbor, down 27-10 at the half, rallied for a stunning 30-29 victory at Roy Anderson Field.
“My team needed a spark, and if I could be that guy, I would,” Valona said. “Every play, I just go my hardest and rely on the guys next to me. That’s what it all comes down to. That’s how we came together to win.”
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Chantler wasn’t sure who would emerge as the feature back for the Tides, but it appears Valona’s got a chance to replace the graduated Sterling Brown. Valona rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, carrying an offense that was sputtering, especially in the first half.
The Tides graduated several key seniors from last year’s playoff team and that showed, at least for one game, that they could be a force.
“We’re not going to back down to anybody,” Chantler said.
Tides’ junior quarterback Davis Alexander flashed signs of brillance and also had some questionable moments. In his first start for the Tides, he finished 8 for 17 passing for 96 yards, and added 57 yards rushing with a touchdown.
Yellow flags flew around everywhere during a predictably sloppy first game of the season.
The Seahawks dominated the first half, but struggled in the second. Major Ali rushed for 141 yards on 21 carries for Penninsula. The Seahawks advance to the Tides’ 25 in the final seconds but quarterback Robert Kvinsland threw an incompletion on fourth down to give the ball to Gig Harbor, which ran out the clock.
“It was just really frustrating,” Peninsula head coach Ross Filkins said. “But hats off to Gig Harbor. They finished and they deserved it.”