If last week’s game against Capital was a must win, nothing short of winning out will suffice now for Gig Harbor High School’s football team if they want to even be in the playoff conversation.
The Tides missed a chance last week against the Cougars, falling behind by two touchdowns early before finally breaking onto the scoreboard in the third quarter. That wasn’t enough to prevent a 34-7 loss that drops Gig Harbor to 2-4 overall, and 1-3 in the 3A South Sound Conference.
The road back begins with Friday’s game 7 p.m. at Roy Anderson Field against Shelton. Shelton enters the game with an 0-6 overall record and an 0-4 mark in conference. Then, it’s the annual Fish Bowl game against crosstown rival Peninsula at 7 p.m. on Oct. 19.
Even with two victories, a lot of things will have to fall into place from the teams ahead of the Tides in the standings. And they can’t afford to have the miscues they had against Capital.
The Capital game followed the theme of the season for the Tides: It could have gone differently, but ultimately, it ended in a loss. Gig Harbor had several dropped passes in the first half — likely due in part to the steadily-pouring rain — which would have gone for first downs for the Tides.
Gig Harbor also came up empty twice in the red zone, turning the ball over on downs.
“We had a lot of drops,” said Gig Harbor coach George Fairhart. “I think we had six or seven in the first half. It just killed us. We couldn’t get anything going.”
Gig Harbor scored in the third quarter to get onto the scoreboard for the first time and trailed, 20-7, with 1:03 left in the period.
The Cougars quickly extinguished any hope for the Tides just a few seconds later. Junior running back Clayton Grady scampered for a 57-yard touchdown to give Capital a 20-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“As soon as (Grady) scored, I went up to him and told him it was a huge touchdown,” said Capital senior quarterback Grant Erickson, who finished 11 of 16 passing for 183 yards and three touchdowns, also adding 57 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
“It was a great run, great read. It just kind of put the nail in the coffin. It took all the energy out of them. Their sideline was getting into it but that just took them out of it.”
Capital (5-1 overall, 3-1 3A South Sound Conference) had the first half’s only two scores — Erickson ran for a touchdown on a keeper in the first quarter, and connected with Carson Collard for a 5-yard touchdown in the second quarter, giving the Cougars a 14-0 lead at half.
The Cougars also scored first in the second half, when Erickson hit receiver Chris Penner for an 80-yard score down the right sideline. Penner finished with three catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns, and also had two interceptions on defense for the Cougars, making an impact on both sides of the ball.
“I was trying to make an impact but I’ve got to give a lot of credit to our offensive line and defensive line,” Penner said. “They were battling up front. They don’t get enough credit. They’re beasts. I give them all the credit.”
Fairhart also said the team didn’t do well stopping Capital’s option offense.
“Their quarterback had a good night,” he said. “We got our butts kicked a little bit. We made too many mistakes.”
Fairhart and the Tides, clearly, are frustrated with how the season is going. The Tides expected to be improved this season and while Gig Harbor has looked more competitive this year in the early-going, the wins aren’t coming.
To Fairhart, it boils down to executing the gameplan.
“We need to execute better,” he said. “We have to stay at it, keep working. That’s all you can do.”