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Peninsula opens up competition for quarterback job

Burke Griffin, left, and Cooper Sims, right, compete in drills during football practice at Peninsula High School on Thursday.
Burke Griffin, left, and Cooper Sims, right, compete in drills during football practice at Peninsula High School on Thursday. jbessex@gateline.com

There’s a quarterback battle brewing in Purdy this spring.

While the presumptive favorite seemed to be senior-to-be Ryder Johnson, who started all last season as a junior, Peninsula coach Ross Filkins said there’s an open competition at the position.

“Our quarterback situation right now is very competitive,” Filkins said. “(Johnson) did a good job putting himself into a situation to continue to compete for that varsity position. Right now, these guys have to show up every day and put their best on the field.”

Among those competing for the job are juniors Burke Griffin and Cooper Sims, and incoming freshman Jack Hanisch. While Hanisch is young, the 6-foot-3, 193-pounder is already opening eyes. He recently received an invitation to the Northwest 9, a showcase for the state’s best quarterbacks. Last year, Gig Harbor High record-breaking quarterback Davis Alexander was invited to the Northwest 9.

“(Hanisch) has got some fantastic tools and has a great upside,” Filkins said.

Filkins has never started a freshman at the QB position during his time at Peninsula, but he said he wouldn’t be opposed to the idea if Hanisch proved he was the best player for the job.

“His physical tools are already ready,” Filkins said. “It’s just going to be the maturity and demonstrating the leadership. I think he has those character traits already pretty well. It’s just a matter of: Can he do it under live fire and can he do it consistently?”

He’ll face a tough battle, however, having to not only fend off challengers Griffin and Sims, but having to knock off Johnson, who has valuable varsity starting experience and senior-year maturity.

“I feel a lot more comfortable (this spring),” Johnson said. “I know the offense a lot more.”

Johnson has been working on his footwork, being more vocal and becoming a better leader.

“I feel like I can be more of a leader on the field than last year,” Johnson said. “I know my way around the playbook. I have a lot more confidence.”

Peninsula posted a 4-5 overall record last season, going 3-4 in the Class 3A South Puget Sound League and missing the state playoffs. While Johnson had some good moments, he struggled with consistency.

“It’s all about consistency,” Filkins said. “We tell our players all the time, we don’t need you to wear a cape, we just need you to do everything the way you’ve been taught to do it. For us, our whole success is built on execution. We try not to make things more complicated than they need to be.”

But Filkins isn’t placing all the blame of last year’s tough campaign on the quarterback position.

“At every position, we want a much higher level of competition,” Filkins said. “It wasn’t just the quarterback position — there were other areas we faltered in.”

If Peninsula played a game tomorrow, Filkins said he isn’t sure who the starting quarterback would be.

“We’re playing everybody equally right now,” Filkins said. “It’s tough to say. They all do things well.”

Filkins hopes to have the competition narrowed down by the end of June.

“We should have a better read on what everyone does and doesn’t do well,” Filkins said.

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