The seventh-seeded Peninsula High School football team — and its offense, specifically — may be heating up at just the right time. Three weeks in a row, the Seahawks have put up over 40 points against their opponents. This week, it came in the opening round of the Class 3A state tournament on Friday night at Roy Anderson Field, when Peninsula toppled Bethel, 55-28.
Getting healthy, it seems, has been the biggest catalyst for the recent offensive explosion.
“I’m really proud of our team,” said Peninsula quarterback Burke Griffin, who went 6 for 9 passing for 153 yards and a touchdown, while racking up 138 yards and a touchdown on nine carries on the ground for the Seahawks in the win. “We went the entire regular season with a different combination of five starting linemen the entire time.”
Then Peninsula got junior tackle Mason Hyde back in week eight, before the team’s Fish Bowl game against crosstown rival Gig Harbor. With Khalif Spry at left tackle, and Hyde at right tackle, the offense has been booming.
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“I would not trade them for anybody,” Griffin said. “Both those guys are certainly Division I talent guys. They’re smart football players, they know how to fit guys up and run their feet and I certainly wouldn’t want to be blocked by them. I couldn’t ask for anything else from those guys. ... I think getting five guys and building some chemistry has been huge for us. All the credit goes to the offensive line.”
Peninsula running back Braeden Potter rushed 19 times for 157 yards and four touchdowns in the win, and is another Seahawks’ player who has benefited from being healthy late in the season.
“I feel great,” Potter said. “Having Mason back has been huge for the offensive line. And everyone stepped up and did their job for the guys that were injured. But for the most part, we’re healthy and firing on all cylinders.”
Peninsula took a 28-14 lead into halftime, and never stopped scoring. Bethel didn’t have too much of an issue scoring points, with senior quarterback Nate Hughes going 21-for-32 for 323 yards and four touchdowns. But the Braves were suspect defensively and lacked Peninsula’s discipline, racking up a bevy of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties throughout the game.
“I didn’t like to see that,” said Peninsula coach Ross Filkins. “It’s not something that in education-based athletics, we’re going to endorse. I know that it’s not what Bethel is about, either. Maybe it was just a bad night for them.”
Peninsula, for its part, kept its composure.
“I feel like that’s what happens when your team isn’t disciplined,” Potter said of Bethel’s antics. “We were taught that if somebody throws a punch, does anything, you walk away. You play football, you’re not here to trash talk, you’re not here to talk about offers. You play your game and you walk away. That’s all it is.”
Peninsula is headed back to the state quarterfinals for the sixth time in the past seven season, and will get a rematch against O’Dea, which beat Peninsula in week one, 28-0. This time around, the Seahawks believe things might go a bit differently.
“Week one, it was difficult,” Potter said. “We were practicing a lot in the gym, so it was difficult to get that chemistry and on-field action. Being where we are now, we’re on the field every day and grinding as a team. We’ve grown and developed so much. We’re ready to play O’Dea. We’re ready to play anyone across the state right now. I’m ready.”
Filkins said the Seahawks are ready for the challenge.
“We’re excited for it,” Filkins said. “They’re an excellent team, great coaches, great program, great team, great players. It’s playoff time. This is what you want. We were disappointed in our week one performance. We talked after week one that we needed to get better, we needed to plug along and if we did that, we felt like we had a chance for a rematch, and here we are.”
NO. 10 BETHEL
NO. 7 PENINSULA
P - Potter 17 yd run (Wright kick)
B - Walker 8 yd pass from Hughes (Schweyen kick)
P - Griffin 48 yd run (Wright kick)
P - McVay 84 yd pass from Griffin (Wright kick)
P - Potter 3 yd run (Wright kick)
B - Pete Latu 14 yd catch from Hughes (Schweyen kick)
P - Potter 1 yd run (Wright kick)
B - Walker 2 yd run (Schweyen kick)
P - Potter 49 yd run (Wright kick)
P - Wittmers 17 yd pass from Griffin (PAT failed)
B - Sokimi 29 yd pass from Griffin (Schweyen kick)
P - Skladany 11 yd run (Hamrick kick)
B - Pete Latu 17 yd pass from Hughes (2-pt failed)
Passing: B - Hughes 21-32-323. P - Griffin 6-9-153.
Rushing: B - Pete Latu 11-80; Walker 8-29; Will Latu 4-15; Danny 3-12; Sokimi 2-(-12); Hughes 7-15. P - Griffin 9-138; Potter 19-157; Skladany 2-12; Leonoard 2-2.
Receiving: B - Sokimi 7-122; Pete Latu 5-61; Parker 4-42, Etienne 3-81; Walker 1-8. P - Wittmers 4-54; McVay 1-84; Coalson 1-15.