Gateway: Sports

Gig Harbor has to win. Peninsula still wants the league title. Who wins the 2018 Fish Bowl?

Peninsula Seahawks fans let out a cheer before 2016 Fish Bowl gets going.
Peninsula Seahawks fans let out a cheer before 2016 Fish Bowl gets going.

The big game is here. It’s Fish Bowl week.

The 40th edition of the annual football game between Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools is 7 p.m. on Friday at Roy Anderson Field. Peninsula is the official “home” team this year.

We will once again host a Twitter contest for the big game. Submit your score prediction on Twitter using the hashtag #FishBowlPrediction. The closest to the actual score — with the correct winner chosen — will have their name and photo printed in the paper next week. More importantly they get Twitter bragging rights for the next year.

Gig Harbor leads the overall series, 21-18. Peninsula has won two in a row, taking last year’s game, 31-21, after winning in 2016, 33-7. Before that, Gig Harbor had won three in a row from 2013-2015.

Peninsula enters the game with a 4-1 league record (5-2 overall) after dropping last week’s game to Yelm, 42-21. Gig Harbor is in must-win mode, entering with 2-3 record in the Class 3A South Sound Conference (3-4 overall).

Despite the disparity in the teams’ records, I don’t expect this to be a blowout for either team. As I wrote in this week’s preview of the game, Gig Harbor’s record is a bit deceiving. Losses to Timberline and Yelm came by a combined 10 points, and the Tides had chances to win both of those games.

And while Peninsula has been strong this season and has posted impressive wins over Skyline and Timberline, last week’s loss to Yelm shows the Seahawks are vulnerable, too.

Peninsula is led by dual-threat quarterback Burke Griffin, who is having his best season yet for the Seahawks. Gig Harbor has had some trouble with dual-threat quarterbacks, notably against Timberline’s Hunter Campau and Yelm’s Kyle Robinson. Griffin might be the best they’ve seen yet, so the Tides will have their hands full.

Gig Harbor will also have to account for running back Braeden Potter, who plays with a physical edge that wears teams down over the course of the game.

For Peninsula, the Seahawks defense will have to slow down a slew of explosive playmakers for the Tides, including receivers Jurrian Hering and Ryan King.

I think Gig Harbor is a better team than their record indicates. There are plenty of playmakers, and the Tides have been strong defensively for most of the season. Hering and King, especially, have the ability to take a game over with their big-play ability.

There’s also something to be said for the predicament Gig Harbor finds itself in. Anything short of winning the final two games of the season will kill any shot the Tides have at finding themselves in the playoffs.

That sort of desperation can be galvanizing for a team. Gig Harbor has to win. The players have no choice but to play as hard as they possibly can, as if more motivation for a rivalry game was needed.

Peninsula is not a perfect team, but the Seahawks are a pretty dang good one. Not that they’ll need any extra motivation for the Fish Bowl, but last week’s loss to Yelm has to have Filkins’ group pretty fired up.

Peninsula has a strong senior class and has ambitions of playing deep into the state tournament, and I don’t think they’ll be derailed this week.

Gig Harbor keeps it close for a half, but Griffin’s legs are the difference in the second half, and Peninsula pulls away late.

Prediction: Peninsula 28, Gig Harbor 17

Want to know more about the rivalry between Gig Harbor and Peninsula and the long history behind Fish Bowl? Here’s a story former News Tribune writer Kenny Via wrote a couple years ago about the programs.