Gateway: Sports

Gig Harbor’s Zeitner impresses in debut at running back, linebacker

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The Gig Harbor High School football team notched their first victory of the season last Thursday, defeating Spanaway Lake 28-13.

The win came in part due to the effective running game the Tides had, led by senior Trevor Zeitner and the physicality of the offensive line.

Zeitner carried the ball 13 times for 84 yards and three touchdowns, leading the team in in total offense. Behind him was senior running back Jake Dolven, carrying the ball 18 times for 62 yards and a touchdown.

“I trusted my line to block for me,” Zeitner said. “Most of the time, I’m kind of reactionary when I run. I hope I see something and if I don’t, I draw it out. And that could be my downfall, but usually it works out.”

This game indeed worked out for Zeitner, his first as a varsity running back. And within the first quarter, Zeitner scored his first touchdown from 12 yards out, giving the Tides their first score of the season.

“I really like my first [touchdown], because that was my first varsity one,” he said. “I got a really cool picture of it.”

Coach George Fairhart echoed Zeitner’s praise of the offensive line as well. Reiterating that the line is one of their core strengths, Fairhart wants his players to be tough on the field.

“All those kids have worked hard all summer and physically, they are bigger and stronger,” he said. “Hopefully we can continue to build on that and run the ball well next week.”

Heading into halftime, the Tides were up 7-6 but quickly expanded their lead when Dolven scored his touchdown on a one yard run. Then Zeitner scored two more times in the third quarter from the five and two yard line respectively.

But of course, it takes some defense to help win football games and Zeitner had his hand in that as well.

As the middle linebacker for the Tides, it’s Zeitner relaying the plays to the rest of the defense. And even though he doesn’t see himself as the leader type, Zeitner follows through with the schemes.

“When you’re calling [the plays] it feels like more is resting on it so it feels like you have to try even harder,” he said. “I think we’ve always had a pretty good defense, we just have so many good athletes on defense all the time. Again, our line is amazing.”

Defensively, Zeitner finished the game with three tackles, four assisted tackles, a sack and two tackles for a loss.

And yes, he still prefers hitting over running.

“I mean it was fun, but I just still really like linebacker,” he said. “You have more control of the field…I really just like the hitting and staying active.”

This Friday, the Tides are playing Curtis and they bring with them a big run game that may cause problems for the Gig Harbor defense.

“We played well, we gave up some big plays to their offense but we have to clean that up a little bit,” coach Fairhart said. “We played the run pretty well, we got after the quarterback pretty well but our pass defense needs to improve a little bit.”

Zeitner believes that his defense can make the Vikings a one-dimensional team by staying tough on the line and forcing the run game inside.

If they can manage that, then the Tides will surely be able to control the clock and maybe feed him more carries late in the game.

“I think our biggest issue is that we need to be mentally focused,” Zeitner said. “We did good last week not jumping off sides. But knowing teams, they will be calling freeze counts. Staying focused and not give up dumb penalties, I think we will do really good.”

The Tides will match up against the Vikings at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13 at Roy Anderson Field.

PENINSULA FALLS TO O’DEA IN OPENER

Peninsula fell to defending Class 3A state tournament runner-up O’Dea in the season opener at Roy Anderson Field on Friday night, 21-6.

O’Dea held a 21-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter, before quarterback Peyton Bice found Chase Wittmers for a touchdown to get the Seahawks on the scoreboard.

Bice completed 13-of-27 passes in his debut for 150 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Peninsula had trouble in the run game, held to 63 rushing yards on the night by the Fighting Irish. Junior Sean Skladany led the way with seven carries for 32 yards.

Wittmers caught four passes for 45 yards, while senior Cole McVay hauled in six catches for 46 yards and senior Shawn Lenoard added two catches for 42 yards.

Senior linebacker Nolan Casey led the team with 10 solo tackles.

Peninsula concludes its non-league schedule on the road against Class 4A Skyline at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 13.

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