Gateway: Sports

After a season of close calls, Gig Harbor wants to get back into 3A playoff picture

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After missing out on the playoffs last season, the Gig Harbor High School football team has one thing on its mind entering this year:

Get back to the postseason.

From the outside looking in, that may be a tall order for the Tides, as many of their offensive leaders like Ben Hollenbeck and Tom Williams have graduated.

But coach George Fairhart believes that the Tides’ physicality this year will help them.

“We’re not the same team we were last year. I think we’re more physical (than last year),” he said. “We’re going to play tough defense, we’re going to have solid line play, and you can win games with that.”

One of the top defensive leaders coming back for his senior season is Trevor Zeitner.

Last season, Zeitner was second on the team in total tackles with 47, and he had an interception. This season, his role has expanded to playing a little running back on offense. Though he still prefers to play defense because he likes hitting better.

“I think we have a good shot this year. Everyone here is working hard and trying their best,” he said. “I just want us to finish the year knowing we did the best we could. Last year, I know we could’ve done better. We lost some games that we should’ve won.”

Another returning senior that will help make a difference is Max Lang. Last season, Lang had limited playing time, only appearing in four games.

The last two weeks of the 2018 season is where Lang got some meaningful minutes to carry over to his senior year as he recorded 11 tackles and received a touchdown pass.

“We have the talent, for sure,” Lang said. “We lost a lot of good talent (from last season) but the way we’ve been working this year, I think we’re going to be pretty good.”

Lang, like his teammates, has put in a lot of effort over the offseason, including lifting and conditioning.

He will line up at safety and wide receiver, his preferred position.

A sparkplug for the Tides this season will be Zane Skansi, another senior who had limited time playing as a junior.

Skansi is determined to help his team win the 3A South Sound Conference, citing that in order to do so, younger players will step up on both sides of the ball.

“The younger guys will do a really good job stepping up and I think our seniors leaders this year will have a big part in that, too,” Skansi said. “I’ll get my guys going before every game and make sure we have our assignments.”

Although he finished last season with 107 receiving yards and a touchdown, Skansi is set up to have a prime role in the Tides’ offense.

“I think Zane is really explosive, he’s an explosive player,” Fairhart said. “We have to get him the ball. We have some other kids that have really come on like Cade Dessert, Jake Jennings, and Tate Turnbull. We have a lot of kids that have performed this fall.”

Fairhart also believes that the nucleus of his team will be the linemen on both sides of the ball, particularly Sam Peacock and Brenden Rivera.

“I think the strength of our team is our linemen,” he said. “We have several good lineman returning and we are going to build around that. Peacock and Rivera are obviously working hard and setting a good example for the rest of the team.”

The Tides will participate in the Pre-season Varsity Jamboree alongside Tahoma, Auburn Mountainview and White River at 11 a.m. on Aug. 31 at Maple View Middle School.

Their season will open on the road against Spanaway Lake at 7 p.m., Sept. 5 at Art Crate Stadium.