Gateway: Sports

Gig Harbor faces Bellarmine on Friday for Narrows 4A title

Cooper Caywood, a sixth-grader who is battling cancer, was an honorary Tide during last Friday's game against Yelm.
Cooper Caywood, a sixth-grader who is battling cancer, was an honorary Tide during last Friday's game against Yelm. Courtesy

The Gig Harbor High football team had a special guest out for the coin toss at Friday night’s game against Yelm.

Cooper Caywood, a sixth-grader who is battling cancer, had the chance to call a game in the huddle while the Tides were warming up, in addition to joining the captains for the coin toss. For the Tides, it was all about bringing a little joy to Caywood. Masen Lopes, a 7-year old who is also battling cancer, was also in attendance.

“It was good, just to be out there and reach out to them,” Gig Harbor coach Aaron Chantler said.

On the field, the Tides took care of business against the visiting Yelm Tornados, winning 51-14. Sophomore running back Martin Brazier scored four touchdowns for the Tides. Gig Harbor had 634 yards of total offense in the game.

“It was a big night,” Chantler said. “Our system, when we’re moving that well, our system will get someone into the end zone. We got into the red zone a lot. It was nice to have a running game. We had 89 (rushing yards from Brazier), 87 from (senior quarterback Davis Alexander) and 46 from (senior Noah Samsen).”

Since Bellarmine knocked off Olympia last week, it sets up a Narrows 4A title game for the Tides against the Lions this Friday night at Roy Anderson Field. It’s the third straight year the Lions and Tides will battle for the title. Two years ago, the Lions clobbered Gig Harbor on the Tides’ home field. Last season, Gig Harbor returned the favor, routing the Lions at Memorial Field in Tacoma.

“We’re excited,” Chantler said. “It’s been three years in a row now we’re where in this position. Our first goal every year is to fight for a league title. There’s a little extra when you play Bellarmine. They’re our biggest rival. It’s a big game for us. They kicked the snot out of us last time we played them at home. I think we’re hungry to prove, ‘Who’s going to be the better team?’ We don’t think it’s going to be a blowout every year. It’s exciting and fun; we’re glad it’s at home, playing on turf at Roy Anderson.”

Bellarmine comes in with a clear identity: Run the football, execute the quick passing game, establish play action and take some shots downfield.

“Bellarmine always plays their system,” Chantler said. “They’re a well-coached team. I like (head coach) Brian (Jensen), he does a great job. They’re not going to try to out-scheme the world; they are who they are.”

The key to winning the game seems pretty obvious for the Tides: Stop the run.

“They’re going to try to run the ball down your throat,” Chantler said. “They have a couple big kids who are productive. They’ve got all the tools. We’ve got the handle that. Defensively, we’re going to bring a lot of pressure. It’s a fundamentally sound football team. We have to take advantage and play solid, fundamental football.”

The Tides will have to stop senior running back Ahmad Lewis, who has been a big part of Bellarmine’s success for the past two seasons. Gig Harbor came out flat against Olympia. Chantler wants to make sure that doesn’t happen against Bellarmine.

“It’s something we’ve already talked about,” Chantler said. “We don’t play too high or too low. … The Bellarmine game has that extra layer. That fired up atmosphere against Bellarmine happens pretty naturally. Also, I don’t think Gig Harbor has been 9-0 — ever. I’m pretty sure we’re never been in this situation.”

Jon Manley: 253-358-4151