Gateway: Sports

Top 5 biggest games of the season for Gig Harbor, Peninsula football: No. 5

Gig Harbor center Brenden Rivera lines up the offense against Yelm on Friday night at Roy Anderson Field. Yelm won, 16-13.
Gig Harbor center Brenden Rivera lines up the offense against Yelm on Friday night at Roy Anderson Field. Yelm won, 16-13.

With football season approaching shortly for both Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools, it’s a good time to look at the upcoming schedules for both the Tides and Seahawks.

Each week, starting on July 4, we’ll take a look at the five biggest games of the season for the local squads, counting down to the biggest game on the schedule.

This week, we start with No. 5.

Curtis at Gig Harbor: Friday, Sept. 13 at Roy Anderson Field

Gig Harbor opens the season on the road at Spanaway Lake in week one, but the week two showdown against the visiting Vikings figures to be the more challenging test of the Tides’ two non-league contests.

Last year’s meeting: Gig Harbor traveled to University Place last season and lost to Curtis, 33-21. Gig Harbor trailed 21-7 at the half while struggling to bottle up Curtis’ rushing attack.

The offensive combination of quarterback Kyle Russell and tailback Caleb Kwalalon frustrated Gig Harbor’s defense and the Curtis’ offensive line got the better of the Tides. Both Russell and Kwalalon return this season. Russell, a senior, is the reigning 4A SPSL offensive co-MVP while Kwalalon will be going into his junior season.

Curtis should also have a strong defense this season, returning 4A SPSL first-teamers Miles Cooney, a senior linebacker and senior defensive back Garrett Beard.

This season’s outlook: The biggest factor for the Tides is stopping Curtis’ running game. If the Vikings are able to run at will through Gig Harbor’s defensive line, it could be a similar result for the Tides. If Gig Harbor can shut down the running game and force Russell and co. to air the ball out, it could make for a more favorable result for the Tides.

On offense, there should be some added stability at quarterback for Gig Harbor because senior Cade Dessert is expected to be named the starter after starting a handful of games last season. Gig Harbor will need to find some playmakers on the outside after losing receivers Jurrian Hering and Ryan King to graduation. But a steady QB and a strong offensive line — led by Samuel Peacock and Brendan Rivera — will be a good starting place for Gig Harbor.

Why this game matters: Sure, it’s a non-league game, so this game won’t count toward the league standings and in the big picture, it ultimately doesn’t mean much. But after losing three out its first four games to begin the 2018 season, Gig Harbor will desperately want to get off to a better start this season to build some momentum and make a push into the Class 3A playoffs.

A win against Curtis would be a big confidence boost one week before Gig Harbor opens 3A SSC play with a critical home matchup against Timberline. One big win can often snowball into two, three, or four. For Gig Harbor, which was on the wrong end of a lot of close, competitive games last year, a little momentum could go a long way.