After beating defending Class 3A South Sound Conference champion Timberline in week five on Sept. 27, Peninsula put itself in the driver’s seat for the league title this year.
But that’s not to say it was suddenly going to be an easy road.
Peninsula took Central Kitsap’s best shot in week six on Oct. 5, but ultimately hung on for a 33-24 win. It goes to show, in this year’s deep SSC, there aren’t many weeks off — getting the win is the most important thing.
“It was huge to get the win,” said Peninsula running back, receiver and safety Shawn Leonard, who hauled in six catches for 91 yards and added 26 yards on 10 carries. “(Coach Ross Filkins) always talks to us about not looking at the scoreboard. If we just keep pushing, we’ll eventually get the win.”
Peninsula quarterback Burke Griffin completed 15 of 18 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown against the Cougars, while also adding 48 yards and a touchdown on the ground on nine carries. Running back Braeden Potter tallied 70 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Nolan Casey rushed twice for six yards and a touchdown in the win. Linebacker Isaac Casey led the defense with 11 solo tackles and four tackle assists.
Peninsula is in the midst of a particularly difficult stretch of games, having already played the league’s bottom two teams, North Thurston and Shelton, in weeks three and four. Now, with wins over Timberline and Central Kitsap, Peninsula has Yelm, crosstown rival Gig Harbor and Capital left on the schedule. Yelm and Capital are both sitting at 3-1 in league, and while Gig Harbor has stumbled to a 1-3 league record, the Tides should be up for the Fish Bowl, regardless.
“The South Sound Conference, I think you’ll have a really hard time finding a deeper league,” Filkins said. “I’ve been very impressed with what I see on film. We have some very big games coming. This thing is going to go right down to the wire. Whoever makes it out to playoffs is going to be battle tested and ready for playoff football.”
If there were concerns about a “hangover effect” after Peninsula’s emotional win over Timberline in week five, the Seahawks responded in the right way.
“Just getting one win a week is huge for us right now,” Filkins said. “I’ll tip my hat to Central Kitsap. They played very hard, smart. They’re a very talented team. They have some impressive wins out of conference, as well. Playing them is like doing a root canal.”
Filkins said there’s still plenty the team needs to clean up, despite the win and a 4-0 league record.
“We didn’t tackle particularly well last week,” Filkins said. “We didn’t execute particularly well. We left some things on the table. We’ve been going through a lot of injuries and illness the entire year. It’s been really challenging for us to get a consistent practice week, starting lineup each week.
“I feel like we’re getting close. There’s a chance we’ll get our whole team together next week. There’s still a lot of meat on the bone, we feel like we’re getting there.”
Peninsula hits the road to face Yelm (4-2 overall, 3-1 SSC) this week, which boasts wins over Capital and Gig Harbor. The lone loss for the Tornados came against Central Kitsap, 30-28, on Sept. 14.
“They’re a great team,” Filkins said. “They’re well coached, have a lot of returning athletes, are really big up front. They have a lot of speed, play super hard. We’ve got our work cut out for us. We’ve got to put together a great week of preparation.”
As always, the mantra remains the same for the Seahawks: Win one game a week.
“They’re a good team,” Leonard said. “Playing on their grass field, it’ll be a good time. We just want to approach it like every other game — just win one game a week.”