Gateway: Sports

Top 5 biggest games of the season for Gig Harbor, Peninsula football: No. 3

Peninsula QB Burke Griffin recaps Fish Bowl win over Gig Harbor

Peninsula High School topped crosstown rival Gig Harbor, 21-10, on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 at Roy Anderson Field in Purdy in the annual Fish Bowl game.
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Peninsula High School topped crosstown rival Gig Harbor, 21-10, on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 at Roy Anderson Field in Purdy in the annual Fish Bowl game.

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. 3

Timberline at Gig Harbor, Sept. 20 at Roy Anderson Field

Despite Gig Harbor missing the postseason, the Tides weren’t a bad team last season. Gig Harbor was in a handful of close, competitive games all season, but could just never seem to come out on the right end of those close results.

That was the case in last season’s week three game against Timberline, a 14-7 loss at South Sound Stadium in Lacey. Gig Harbor’s defensive line was physical and active against a solid Timberline offense last season, holding the Blazers to just 14 points, holding Timberline to 4-of-12 on third down conversions and forcing two turnovers.

But Timberline’s goal-line stand in the fourth quarter was the difference, as the Blazers stuffed the Tides on four consecutive runs. A score and converted PAT would’ve tied the game at 7. Instead, Timberline forced Gig Harbor to turn the ball over on downs, and then proceeded to score on a 78-yard touchdown on the ensuing drive. While Gig Harbor fought back and scored a touchdown to cut the lead to seven, the 14-point swing proved too much to overcome.

This season’s outlook: Timberline loses quarterback Hunter Campau to graduation, the Class 3A South Sound Conference’s Most Valuable Player in 2018. The Blazers also lose four first-team defenders in lineman Pele Maiava, linebackers Jamin Fa’alogo and Justin Kuhn and defensive back Colton Steepy. While Gig Harbor will need to replace Ryan King and Jurrian Hering, the Tides will look to run the ball in this game, anchored by first-team offensive linemen Brenden Rivera and Samuel Peacock.

There will be plenty of new faces in this game, but the identity of both teams will remain the same— wanting to win the battle in the trenches and be the more physical football team. Whichever team better controls the line of scrimmage will have a good shot in this one.

Why this game matters: Apart from Timberline perennially being one of the league’s premiere programs, this is the first league game of the season for Gig Harbor in the 3A SSC. And after missing the playoffs last season, the Tides will be hungry to kick off conference play with a win. If George Fairhart’s squad will reverse its fortunes this season, the Tides will need to find a way to win close games down the stretch this season. Doing so in the first league game of the season would be a great way to establish some inner-belief amongst the team and build some momentum for the rest of the season, which doesn’t get any easier, with a trip to Yelm the following week.