It took Jurrian Hering one play to realize he was going to have a big game against North Thurston on Friday night at Roy Anderson Field.
Fielding the game’s opening kickoff from his own 15-yard line, Hering returned it 85 yards for a touchdown.
“As soon as I touched the ball, I knew I was scoring,” Hering said.
Hering, a senior cornerback, returner and wide receiver for the Tides, didn’t stop there. He also caught two passes for 98 yards in the game — both went for touchdowns. And defensively, he recovered a North Thurston fumble, scooped it up and ran it back 82 yards for a touchdown.
All told: Hering finished with 274 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns — two on offense, one on special teams and one on defense. Gig Harbor won convincingly, 50-8 over the Rams.
“Jurrian went off,” said Gig Harbor coach George Fairhart. “He’s super talented and everything went right for him that night. It’s good for him. He’s been working really hard. He’s been a little banged up early in the season.”
Hering wasn’t the only one. For the first time this season, Gig Harbor was finally at full strength. Most notably, on the offensive line. While the backups have performed admirably, having all-league lineman Malik Livingston back and right guard and starting center Jake Flynn back in action was a boost for the Tides.
Gig Harbor finally had its starting offensive line back, how Fairhart had it penciled in before the season started. Left tackle Nick Belarde, left guard Brenden Rivera, center Jake Flynn, right guard Malik Livingston and right tackle Sam Peacock.
“It’s a huge difference maker for us,” Fairhart said. “We know we can run the ball behind those guys. We did have some kids step up and get quite a bit of experience, while we had a couple guys out. We’re coming together right now.”
And offensively, Gig Harbor was able to get things rolling, after being held to 20 total points in losses to Timberline and Yelm. Hering was a big part of that.
“I definitely wanted to go out and show out,” Hering said. “Up to this point, we’ve struggled offensively, scoring 20 points in two games. I wanted to do what I could to help us get this offense moving. I just tried to play loose, relaxed.”
Cade Dessert started the game at quarterback for the Tides, completing 12 of 17 passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns. Ben Hollenbeck, who started the season at QB while battling a nagging injury, saw a bit of time at quarterback but has primarily moved to receiver, giving the Tides another playmaker in the passing game. Dessert has stepped up and played well for the Tides at the QB position.
“Cade just manages things,” Fairhart said. “He’s really good with the short passing game, he can do some things. He has been more consistent, gotten more confidence as the games have gone on.”
Ryan King, also fully healthy now, hauled in eight passes for 73 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win, while Hollenbeck snagged three passes for 25 yards. Hollenbeck also completed 2 of 2 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Most of all, getting back into the win column was good for the team’s morale, after two frustrating, close league losses the past two weeks.
“The team’s spirit was back up,” Hering said. “We were frustrated. Getting a good win helps our confidence.”
Four teams will make the playoffs from the South Sound Conference. The conference is the deepest it has been since its inception in 2016. Peninsula leads the way at 3-0 after knocking off Timberline in overtime last week. Timberline, Capital, Central Kitsap and Yelm all boast 2-1 records, while Gig Harbor is sitting just behind at 1-2.
“It’s going to be a fight for those spots,” Fairhart said.
It makes Gig Harbor’s road matchup against Capital on Friday most likely a must-win game for the Tides.
“Our goal is to win out and make the playoffs,” Hering said. “We’re just going to go into every week like we’re trying to win it all.”