Gateway: Sports

Top 5 biggest games of the season for Gig Harbor, Peninsula football: No. 4

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With football season approaching shortly for both Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools, it’s a good time to look over the upcoming schedules for both the Tides and Seahawks, which are both looking to contend for the Class 3A South Sound Conference title this fall. 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 continue with No. 4.

O’Dea at Peninsula, Sept. 6 at Roy Anderson Field

Peninsula faced off against the Fighting Irish twice last season — once, in a 28-0 loss in the season opener in Seattle and in the second meeting, in a 35-19 loss at Memorial Stadium in Seattle in the Class 3A state tournament quarterfinals.

The second meeting was more competitive, as Peninsula was hanging around until senior quarterback Burke Griffin was knocked out of the game with an injury.

But whether or not Griffin had been injured, Peninsula’s defense was having little luck bottling up O’Dea’s rushing attack, as was the case in the first meeting between the teams in the season opener.

This season’s outlook: While there were some more positives to take away from Peninsula’s second meeting with O’Dea, the biggest factor in this game will be whether or not Peninsula’s defense will be able to stop the Irish ground game.

It’s no secret that Monte Kohler’s squads want to run the football, with a preferred old-school style of attack that few opponents have had luck slowing down. If Peninsula is going to have a shot against one of the state’s premier programs, the Seahawks will have to limit the damage on the ground.

On the offensive side of the ball, it could be a work in progress for the Seahawks, which have the unenviable task of replacing three-year starting signal caller Burke Griffin, who is playing at the next level at the University of New Hampshire. Griffin steadily progressed as a QB in his junior and senior seasons, emerging as a true, dynamic dual-threat QB in his senior season. He amassed over 6,500 total all-purpose yards and 53 total touchdowns in his career, and will be the biggest hole to replace on Peninsula’s roster.

Senior Peyton Bice saw some playing time last season and could be in line to start for the Seahawks this season, but expect the QB competition to play out until the opener. Whoever ends up starting at quarterback should benefit from a veteran offensive line and a good stable of running backs.

Why this game matters: Every team wants to win its season opener, and that’s no different for Ross Filkins’ squad. This is no soft landing for the Seahawks, especially with having to replace a three-year starting quarterback. This is a non-league game and won’t count toward the 3A SSC standings, but Peninsula will still want to start its season off on the right foot, and a good showing against the 2018 state 3A runner-up would set the right tone for the season.