After being shut out in the season opener last week against defending Class 3A state champion O’Dea, Peninsula High School football coach Ross Filkins could have gone fire and brimstone with his players. But he took a different path.
“We just wanted to get back to playing Seahawk football and having fun,” Filkins said. “What does fun look like, feel like? The entire week was built around that premise.”
Everyone’s definition of fun is probably slightly different. But one thing that’s universally fun? Winning.
With Peninsula’s 32-20 win over Class 4A power Skyline, the Seahawks had plenty of fun at Roy Anderson Field on Friday night.
“The scoreboard looks better than last week, but that’s not what’s important,” said Peninsula senior quarterback Burke Griffin. “It’s the feeling. We played like we know we could.”
Griffin, for his part, played an electric game. He was dynamic. Explosive. Poised. He rushed 23 times for 238 yards and a pair of touchdowns and completed 10-of-13 passes for 128 yards.
“We felt like (Griffin) was the best athlete on the field,” Filkins said. “We wanted to put that game on his shoulders and let him shine.”
With sophomores Spencer Kanouse and Hunter Nordlund starting their first varsity games on the offensive line, there were some penalty issues, but all in all, there was plenty of room for the running game to operate.
“We had great blocking on the outside tonight,” Griffin said. “Truthfully, on most of my runs, I wasn’t touched. That’s all credit to the guys in front of me. I’m proud of the way they played.”
Peninsula senior running back Braeden Potter fumbled near the goal-line in the second quarter, but must have wanted to atone afterward, finishing with 17 carries for 124 yards and three touchdowns.
“He really wanted to make up for (the fumble),” Filkins said. “He’s such a physical presence on our team. We take a lot of pride in being a physical team. Tonight, we really got back to who we were. Braeden led us in that regard.”
Down 20-19 heading into the fourth quarter, Potter scored two of his three touchdowns in the final period to seal the win for the Seahawks.
The defense, for the most part, held a balanced Spartans’ offense in check. Defensive linemen Graham Schmidt and Isaiah Juvik made life difficult for the Skyline front.
“Practice was really intense this week,” Schmidt said. “We worked really hard, got maximum reps the whole week, just so we could get better after O’Dea. ... Finishing was the big key. We worked on it all week — finishing blocks, finishing tackles — finishing.”
Juvik summed up the defensive gameplan as succinctly as anyone possibly could.
“We didn’t want to let them get any yards,” he said. “We were just kind of eating it up.”
Peninsula finishes its non-league schedule with a 1-1 record.
“I’m really excited about our non-league,” Filkins said. “This goes all the way back to May 28. We wanted to have the toughest offseason we could possibly come up with. We really went all in with this. The benefit is learning so much about ourselves, stepping into league play.”
Peninsula opens league play on Thursday, Sept. 13, facing North Thurston at South Sound Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.