Nobody on Gig Harbor’s roster had forgotten about the 59-14 thumping the Bellarmine Prep Lions gave the Tides on their home turf last year. But the Tides are a different team this season, and they returned the favor, riding a big first half to a 49-0 win at Memorial Field and claiming the Narrows 4A title.
“We knew this team was way different and this team was way more focused,” Gig Harbor junior wide receiver Noah Samsen said. “Obviously, it was a thought all offseason. We never want that to happen again and obviously it didn’t tonight.”
Samsen found the end zone twice in the first half, once untouched on a 39-yard run and another time standing inconspicuously in the back corner of the end zone. Junior quarterback Davis Alexander scrambled wildly and eventually found Samsen for the score, standing still and watching the ball come into his hands.
Gig Harbor (8-1 overall, 6-0 Narrows 4A) had practiced on a grass field all week instead of their normal turf surface to prepare for the muddy conditions at Memorial Field. The field, which was indeed a mudhole, didn’t slow the high-flying Tides offense. By halftime it was 35-0. It all added up to Gig Harbor’s first league title since winning the Narrows Bridge title in 2005, and gives the Tides a No. 1 seed going into the playoffs. It’s a far cry from the 3-7 record they had during coach Aaron Chantler’s first season three years ago.
“To flip it around as fast as we have is a testament to my coaching staff, a testament to the support we have and it’s a huge testament to the kids we have on the field,” Chantler said. “They were absolutely phenomenal tonight. That’s probably the best football game we’ve played in three years.”
It certainly felt like the most meaningful.
“We’ve worked our whole year for this and we deserve this,” Samsen said. “Our whole team. Our whole team put in perfect effort all night. That’s what happens. You win the Narrows League championship when you do that.”
Gig Harbor’s Alexander finished 7 for 11 for 123 yards and three touchdowns, and added a touchdown on the ground with a 12-yard scramble. Junior running back Adrian Valona scored three touchdowns, two on the ground and one through the air.
For Bellarmine (6-3, 4-2) it was a different story. The Lions struggled to get anything going throughout the game. Senior quarterback Will Roberson finished just 3 for 11 for 28 yards.
“Obviously, we didn’t take care of all phases of the game,” Bellarmine coach Tom Larsen said.
They’ll work to fix the issues in practice, he said.
“We still have an opportunity, so we’ve got work to do,” Larsen said.
Gig Harbor is riding high heading into the postseason, breezing through the Narrows League this season.
“I believe in every one of these players,” Samsen said. “I believe in every one of us, that we can go as far as our talent and our focus can take us.”