After cruising to a 2-0 start, the Gig Harbor Tides hosted Timberline in what was to be a physical matchup with the visiting Blazers.
But when the Tides ran over the Blazers in a 42-7 blowout, you’d be better off calling the game a domination.
Coach George Fairhart credited the run game for Gig Harbor’s first pair of wins on the season. And while discussing the upcoming Timberline game — which had yet to occur at the time — he wasn’t apologetic about his plan to establish the run once again.
Looking back, that plan most definitely worked.
Cade Dessert — the Tides quarterback — noted a promising development of chemistry among the players after the victory.
“We’re definitely learning a lot faster than the past few years with the playbook, and that’s given us a variety of what skills we can use,” Dessert said. “I feel like we’re better learners than we were last year. The team chemistry is really there.”
Last season, Gig Harbor beat Spanaway Lake in their season opener, but would go on to lose four of their next five contests. It’s no question the Tides have already improved on that mark.
And even with a loss to Yelm last Friday that dropped their record to 3-1, it seems as if the Tides have turned a corner this season, starting with Dessert at quarterback.
“I needed to trust my reads more as quarterback and take more of a lead role,” Dessert said. “Knowing I’m the head of the offense, and telling people where to go, and taking more of a charge. Last year, I was more of a quiet guy.”
So with Dessert at the helm and a coach not afraid to establish the run, the Tides look ahead to their league games, which ultimately determine playoff positioning.
It’s not that Gig Harbor’s first two wins this season weren’t important. But Fairhart had a simple answer before their first in-league clash with Timberline when asked if the league match ups bring added meaning.
“Well, yeah,” said Fairhart, laughing. “Even though we’re 2-0 [out-of-league], we haven’t done anything in-league. And we have a tough league.”
Of the five remaining contests for the Tides, all of them are in-league. Up next is a road game at North Thurston, before Gig Harbor’s homecoming Oct. 11.
On Oct. 25, the Tides face the team Dessert considers Gig Harbor’s biggest rival.
He’s definitely not alone in that opinion.
“Of course, the [Peninsula] Seahawks. They’re our rivals,” Dessert said. “We all have friends over there, that’s mainly why. But they’re a team that’s up there in the ranks too. They’re a team to beat.”
That game additionally calls for revenge, as Peninsula defeated Gig Harbor in last year’s Fish Bowl game, 21-10. And with the Seahawks currently at the top of the standings with a 2-0 league record, it sets up to be a vital win for the Tides during the home stretch of the regular season.
Dessert knows he has the team around him to reach the playoffs and beyond, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, which had to yet to allow more than 13 points in a game before Friday night’s loss to Yelm.
“Trevor Zeitner is definitely the heart of our defense. He’s the hardest hitter. I think he has the most tackles on the team. Nothing gets by him,” Dessert said.
The Tides quarterback continued praising his co-stars.
“Our two big guys Brenden Rivera and Samuel Peacock are huge; they help our team so much. Our line is amazing. Our wide receiver core all have really good hands and are fast. That definitely helps.”
And as Dessert and the Tides make a run at the postseason, he knows this season — and the big moment — is what he’s been waiting years for.
“All of my friends that are seniors — now that we’re on the top of the food chain — being with them and starting on varsity. [It’s been] our dream for the past four years. … Playing with all of them is definitely my favorite.”