Mason Hyde had big hopes for his junior season.
Then in June, during a scrimmage against Sumner, one play changed everything for the Peninsula High School lineman.
Going out for a tackle on a quick pass to a Sumner receiver, Hyde’s arm was sandwiched between two players. His body kept moving, but his arm was stuck.
The 6-foot-4, 242-pounder tore the ligaments in his left elbow on both sides. He had surgery to repair the damage in July, sidelining him for most of the season.
“It crushed me,” Hyde said. “I absolutely love football. It crushed me.”
He wasn’t the only one who was crushed. Peninsula coach Ross Filkins said the news was a tough blow for the entire team.
“It was just such a bummer for him,” Filkins said. “He had put in so much work, worked so hard in the offseason, came out in the spring and just looked so dynamic. He looked bigger, stronger, was moving really well. He’s just a force.”
The good news? Hyde has been medically cleared to play Friday, after missing seven games.
The even better news? Friday night’s game is the annual Fish Bowl game against crosstown rival Gig Harbor at Roy Anderson Field.
“I love it,” Hyde said. “It couldn’t be a better week.”
The return is not only beneficial to Peninsula, but for Hyde’s chance of playing at the next level.
Filkins felt like Hyde had a chance of making the all-state team this year, had he been healthy for the whole season.
While Hyde is still waiting for the college offers to roll in, he’s been in contact with Eastern Washington, Central Washington, Portland State, Army, Washington State, Oregon and others.
“You don’t get players like him very often,” Filkins said. “He’s not a guy you can just replace. The combination of physical assets he has, but also just who he is as a person. He’s a great teammate, a good person, a hard worker. He’s a good example for his teammates of how to prepare yourself, how to approach each day, striving to get better.”
Filkins plans to ease Hyde back into the action, given the time he’s missed. Although he played left tackle on offense last year, teammate Khalif Spry has thrived in that spot, giving Filkins some added flexibility.
On defense, Hyde primarily plays defensive end, but moves all across the line and has the ability to play each position. That’s where he could make the biggest contribution for Peninsula, which is hoping to bounce back from its first loss in the South Sound Conference last week against Yelm.
Filkins believes defense is Hyde’s future, given his ability to play multiple spots well. “He has the strength and leverage to get inside, the length and explosiveness to play on the outside. As a defensive lineman, he’s pretty flexible,” he said.
Hyde said he prefers defense, too.
“There’s more action on the defensive line,” he said. “On the offensive line, you’re trying to help your boys out. On the defensive line, we keep that same intensity, but you can make some of those tackles, get sacks. It’s just the more adventurous side of the ball.”
The Seahawks faltered late against Yelm, dropping them to 4-1 in SSC play and 5-2 overall after the 42-21 loss. Hyde’s return has been a boost this week, Filkins said.
“We’ve had good preparation, spirited practices,” Filkins said. “It’s also uplifting to the team when they someone like Mason out there in the huddles with them. They understand how much he’s gone through and how hard he’s worked to get back.”
Peninsula is in three-way tie for first with Yelm and Timberline. Gig Harbor (2-3, 3-4) comes into the rivalry game in sixth place and in a desperate spot if it wants to get one of the conference’s four playoff berths.
The Tides have suffered close losses to Timberline and Yelm, losing in back-to-back weeks by a combined 10 points. And they enter the Fish Bowl on a high after defeating Shelton, 50-14.
So go ahead and throw the records out.
“They’re a very talented team, they’re well coached,” Filkins said. “There are six legitimate playoff teams in this league, and Gig Harbor is one of them. You can’t look at individual games because you’re going to have some outlier performances. A league like this can be humbling for everybody.”
On film, Filkins said the Tides are as good as anyone else in the league.
“There’s not another league like ours in the state,” Filkins said. “We have some real, quality, playoff caliber teams and only four will get out. It puts a lot of pressure on these last two weeks.”
Gig Harbor coach George Fairhart knows his team has no margin of error if it wants to get to the postseason. Even if the Tides win against Peninsula and next week’s game against Central Kitsap they’ll need some help.
“These are must-win games for us,” Fairhart said. “We have to go hard. Everyone is a little more focused and dialed in to what we need to do.
“We kind of felt like we’ve been on the wrong end of a lot of those close games this year. It is what it is. I think we’re still a pretty good team.”
Put it all together, and it’s a spicy mix for one of the area’s top rivalry games.
“The Fish Bowl is a unique creature in its own right,” Filkins said. “For us, it’s just not about who we’re playing, it’s how we’re playing. We have to get back to playing our style of football. That’s going to be really important to us. This is a very important game for both teams.”