Gig Harbor was hoping to stage an upset up north against 9-1 Wesco South 3A champion Edmonds-Woodway on Friday night, but the offense wasn’t able to put points on the board, as the Warriors wore the Tides down over the course of the game en route to a 24-6 victory at Edmonds Stadium.
All in all, it was a dominant effort from an Edmonds-Woodway team that has dispatched its opponents all season long. The game never felt much in doubt, as the Warriors bottled up Gig Harbor’s offense and continually grinded away at the Tides’ defense.
The loss ended Gig Harbor’s (5-5) season, while Edmonds-Woodway moves onto the Class 3A state playoffs.
“It’s difficult, but we’ve had a great season up to this point,” said Gig Harbor cornerback and receiver Jurian Herring. “A couple mistakes caused us big plays. It’s difficult, but looking at the bigger picture, we’ve had a very good season. They were just exploiting our weaknesses. When we tried to fix it, we just made a few personal mistakes. We had a couple penalties here and there.”
Gig Harbor’s offense wasn’t able to get much of anything going throughout the night. Senior quarterback Ryan Baerg completed 11 of 25 passes for 107 yards and two interceptions. Senior receiver Kellen Gregory led the way in the running game with 54 yards on six carries, while senior running back Jesse Valona tallied 46 yards rushing on eight carries, including Gig Harbor’s lone touchdown, which came in the third quarter.
“Most of it was, they’re just a good team,” Herring said. “They had a really good secondary. They locked us down. Occasionally, we had a bad read or something. But mostly, they’re just a really good football team.”
First-year Gig Harbor coach George Fairhart tipped his cap to the opponent, also.
“They’re really physical,” Fairhart said. “Our kids played with a lot of heart and a lot of effort. I’m proud of the way we played. They came back from some tough early season losses. They went through a lot this year with the transition. We showed a lot of improvement, a lot of grit. We just ran into a really good football team tonight.”
Edmonds-Woodway kept the ball on the ground most of the night, splitting 35 carries between four running backs. Senior Dominic Lawrence led the Warriors with 83 yards on 12 carries, while senior Carlos Serrano tallied 70 yards on 19 carries. Quarterback Reilly Chappell went 9-for-16 for 124 yards, a touchdown and a pair of interceptions.
Still, the Gig Harbor defense kept the team in the game until late in the game. By the end of the third quarter, the Warriors led 21-6 — not an insurmountable lead.
When Edmonds-Woodway threated to blow the game wide open, Gig Harbor’s defense found answers, like defensive back Mark Kimball’s fourth-quarter interception deep in Gig Harbor territory to keep the Warriors from scoring.
“I was just waiting, since I had dropped a couple earlier,” Kimball said. “I just wish our season wouldn’t have ended this soon. It was really heartbreaking.”
Fairhart said it was the most complete game Gig Harbor’s defense had played this season.
“I think our defense has really improved throughout the season,” Fairhart said. “That was probably the best game we’ve played this year against a really good team, a power running team that we typically struggle with. We hung in there, they gave us some chances and slowed them down, forced them into really long drives. We didn’t give up anything big. They played well.”
Those in the program — including Fairhart himself — said they believe it was a successful first season for the coach.
“I really enjoyed this season,” Gregory said. “It’s a different feeling in the locker room this year. We’re all upset, but we see what’s to come. We saw how the second half of the year went. I’m really excited to see what they have coming in the next couple years. I think something special is coming. I’m really excited for them even though I won’t be a part of it.”
Fairhart said he was most proud of the team atmosphere that was developed over the course of the season.
“I think we showed improvement every single week,” Fairhart said. “That was the goal coming in. The goal was to build a team, get kids to play together. Over the course of the season, we did that. We have the foundation of what we want to do moving forward. It’s about the team, not certain individuals.”
PENINSULA CRUISES PAST SNOHOMISH, EARNS STATE PLAYOFF BID
Peninsula had little trouble with Snohomish at Roy Anderson Field on Friday night, winning 45-27 against the visitors. The win gives Peninsula the West Central III District’s No. 4 seed in the Class 3A state playoffs.
Quarterback Burke Griffin finished 12-for-18 for 193 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for another. Receiver Alex Beloate finished with 98 yards on six catches and a pair of touchdowns, also blocking a pair of Snohomish extra point attempts.
The Seahawks will hit the road to play Mountain View, a 27-10 winner over Lake Washington, at 7 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 11) at McKenzie Stadium in Vancouver.
Gig Harbor: Baerg 11-25, 107, 2 INT.
Edmonds-Woodway: Chappell 9-16, 124, 2 INT.
Gig Harbor: Valona 8-46, TD; Hollenbeck 1-15; King 2-11; Moore 4-7; Baerg 5- -39.
Edmonds-Woodway: Lawrence 12-83; Serrano 19-70; Sarnowski 4-20; Chappell 9-31, 2 TD; Marinez 1- -1.
Gig Harbor: Gregory 6-54; Hollenbeck 2-24; King 1-10.
Edmonds-Woodway: Rouse 5-84, TD; Lawrence 2-23; Fatty 1-11; Marinez 1-6.