Gig Harbor was hoping to stage an upset against 9-1 Wesco South 3A champion Edmonds-Woodway on Friday
But its offense couldn’t put points on the board, and the Warriors wore the Tides down en route to a 24-6 victory at Edmonds Stadium.
It was a dominant effort from an Edmonds-Woodway team that has dispatched its opponents all season long. The game never felt much in doubt, as the Warriors bottled up Gig Harbor’s offense and continually grinded away at the Tides’ defense.
The loss ended Gig Harbor’s (5-5) season, while Edmonds-Woodway moves onto the Class 3A state playoffs.
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“It’s difficult, but we’ve had a great season up to this point,” said Gig Harbor cornerback and receiver Jurian Herring. “A couple mistakes cost us big plays. It’s difficult, but looking at the bigger picture, we’ve had a very good season. They were just exploiting our weaknesses. When we tried to fix it, we just made a few personal mistakes. We had a couple penalties here and there.”
Gig Harbor’s offense wasn’t able to get much of anything going. Senior quarterback Ryan Baerg completed 11 of 25 passes for 107 yards and two interceptions. Senior receiver Kellen Gregory led the way in the passing game with 54 yards on six catches, while senior running back Jesse Valona tallied 46 yards rushing on eight carries, including Gig Harbor’s lone touchdown in the third quarter.
“Most of it was, they’re just a good team,” Herring said. “They had a really good secondary. They locked us down. Occasionally, we had a bad read or something. But mostly, they’re just a really good football team.”
First-year Gig Harbor coach George Fairhart tipped his cap to the opponent, too.
“They’re really physical,” Fairhart said. “Our kids played with a lot of heart and a lot of effort. I’m proud of the way we played. They came back from some tough early season losses. They went through a lot this year with the transition. We showed a lot of improvement, a lot of grit. We just ran into a really good football team tonight.”
Edmonds-Woodway kept the ball on the ground most of the night, splitting 35 carries between four running backs. Senior Dominic Lawrence led the Warriors with 83 yards on 12 carries, while senior Carlos Serrano tallied 70 yards on 19 carries. Quarterback Reilly Chappell went 9-for-16 for 124 yards, a touchdown and a pair of interceptions.
Gig Harbor’s defense kept the team in the game until late — the Warriors led 21-6 entering the fourth quarter.
When Edmonds-Woodway threatened to blow the game open, Gig Harbor’s defense found answers, like defensive back Mark Kimball’s fourth-quarter interception deep in Gig Harbor territory.
“I was just waiting, since I had dropped a couple earlier,” Kimball said. “I just wish our season wouldn’t have ended this soon. It was really heartbreaking.”
Fairhart said it was the most complete game Gig Harbor’s defense had played this season.
“I think our defense has really improved throughout the season,” Fairhart said. “That was probably the best game we’ve played this year against a really good team, a power-running team that we typically struggle with. We hung in there, they gave us some chances and slowed them down, forced them into really long drives. We didn’t give up anything big. They played well.”
Those in the program — including Fairhart — said they believe it was a successful first season for the coach.
“I really enjoyed this season,” Gregory said. “It’s a different feeling in the locker room this year. We’re all upset, but we see what’s to come. We saw how the second half of the year went. I’m really excited to see what they have coming in the next couple years. I think something special is coming. I’m really excited for them even though I won’t be a part of it.”
Fairhart said he was most proud of the team atmosphere that was developed over the course of the season.
“I think we showed improvement every single week,” Fairhart said. “That was the goal coming in. The goal was to build a team, get kids to play together. Over the course of the season, we did that. We have the foundation of what we want to do moving forward. It’s about the team, not certain individuals.”