Gateway: Sports

Who will win Fish Bowl 2015? We’ve got the answer

Gig Harbor's Adrian Valona figures to have another big year behind a steady Tides offensive line.
Gig Harbor's Adrian Valona figures to have another big year behind a steady Tides offensive line. Staff file

The Fish Bowl is finally here. The annual rivalry game between the Gig Harbor Tides and the Peninsula Seahawks will be played at Roy Anderson Field at 7 p.m. Friday (Sept. 4). The Tides will be the “home” team.

Be sure to arrive early to get a seat. Otherwise, expect to be part of the standing-room-only crowd around the track.

Gig Harbor currently holds a 20-16 edge in the Fish Bowl’s history.

Last year’s Fish Bowl was a thrilling game. Gig Harbor came out on top, 30-29, after being down by 17 points at half. It was the start of a dominant season for Gig Harbor and featured a breakout performance from Adrian Valona, solidifying his spot as the team’s starting running back. This year, Valona returns, running behind an experienced offensive line, an experienced receiving corps and experienced signal caller in Davis Alexander.

While Gig Harbor returns a plethora of talent from last season, Peninsula returns just two starters on offense and four starters on defense. I’ll be curious to see how Peninsula junior quarterback Ryder Johnson plays in his first start under center. The Gig Harbor defense is no slouch, but Johnson will have the help of a strong offensive line, anchored by 6-foot-7, 290-pound left tackle Cody Kanouse.

I expect Peninsula will be able to run the ball effectively this year, which should let Johnson get comfortable. Johnson certainly looks the part of quarterback, standing 6-foot-4 and boasting a strong arm. But looking good in practice and performing on Friday night are two entirely different things, and Johnson will face a stiff test in his first game, against a Gig Harbor team considered by many to be a strong contender to win the Class 4A state title.

Last year, I picked Peninsula, because of the experience of senior QB Robert Kvinsland. That pick nearly worked out, with Kvinsland leading the Seahawks all the way to the Gig Harbor 25-yard-line in the final seconds before turning the ball over on downs.

This year, it’s easy to like Gig Harbor, for a lot of the same reasons. Alexander, the senior quarterback, is a playmaker, and is experienced and comfortable in the Gig Harbor offense. The Tides also return Narrows 4A offensive MVP Noah Samsen, as well as Peninsula transfer Kyle Olson-Urbon. On defense, Gig Harbor has a solid line with a lot of speed in the linebackers group and the secondary.

I think this is Gig Harbor’s year. Anything can happen, but this team has enough talent to win a state title, or at least get to the semifinals.

One player I really like on Peninsula is senior linebacker Chance Stolz, who is an absolute tackling machine. Look for him to be all over the place making plays in the Fish Bowl. I just don’t think it’ll be enough.

Gig Harbor 38, Peninsula 17.

Make sure to participate in our second annual Fish Bowl score prediction contest on Twitter. Use the hashtag #FishBowlPrediction, and be sure to include a final score. The person who guesses the closest final score will get their photo in the paper next week, along with some cool Gateway swag, like a Gateway hat or drink koozie.

Last year’s winner was Gig Harbor High ‘15 graduate Taylor Adams. This year, she picked the Tides again, winning 30-8.

Jon Manley: 253-358-4151