Peninsula’s Ross Filkins, Chase Wittmers discussing upcoming football season
It’s a new year and a new chance at a strong run for the Peninsula High School football team as it looks to not only rebuild aspects of the team, but also to come together as a team to go deeper into the postseason than before.
The Seahawks have had some strong runs in the Class 3A state tournament over the past several years, including last year when Peninsula advanced to the quarterfinals, before losing to O’Dea.
However, the team will have a chance at payback in its first week this season on September 6. While the Seahawks will have to do it without standout graduated players in quarterback Burke Griffin and running back Braeden Potter, they remain optimistic about the team they’re putting on the field.
“We have seniors that graduate every year, that’s one of our successes is watching those kids cross that stage on graduation day,” longtime coach Ross Filkins said. “We have got another senior class coming in and some really good, hard working young kids.”
Griffin was the team’s star quarterback and was named The Peninsula Gateway’s 2018-19 Male Athlete of the Year after having a career that saw him help lead the Seahawks to three-straight Class 3A state tournament appearances. That career ended when he broke his femur in the final game.
One person likely to fill those large shoes is Peyton Bice, a 6-foot-2 quarterback who was the team’s backup last year. He expressed confidence in both himself and the other returning strengths of his team.
“I’m feeling great,” Bice said. “I think the team looks really good. I think we look even further than we were last year at this time. It’s a great feeling.”
That sentiment was echoed by his coach who spoke to how Bice was a more than capable replacement, who they would have looked to last year at any time, had they needed him.
“Peyton Bice is doing a really good job. He’s a senior for us, very capable,” Filkins said. “We were absolutely ready for him to be on the field and lead our varsity offense at anytime. He’s been biding his time. The last two years he’s been ready to go.”
That patience was something Filkins praised as being somewhat unique for someone in the quarterback spot and something that set him apart from other people in that position.
“There are times when, for whatever reason, it seems like quarterbacks will sometimes move along if they don’t see some immediate, easy access to starting,” Filkins said. “I’ll tell you what, Peyton Bice, he’s got some character there to fight through it and he’s earned it. He’s our No. 1 quarterback right now and he’s ready to go.”
As for their first game of the season, the Seahawks are looking to hit the ground running to set themselves up for success, opening the season at home against O’Dea on Friday, Sept. 6. However, they know this won’t be easy as they have lost to O’Dea in not just their final game of the season last year but also in their opening game.
“We want to put our best foot forward for sure,” Filkins said. “We’re working really hard to close that gap. They’re a great program, very well-coached.”
Bice stressed team cohesion and everyone doing their part to come out on top.
“I think step one is beat O’Dea week one,” Bice said. “I just think it’s going to take playing eleven as one football, doing our jobs.”
Only time will tell if the Seahawks will be able to come together and be successful. With that being said, Filkins, with all his experience, expressed confidence in the way he has built his team to be one with the depth required to battle through any challenges such as the injuries like the one in their final game last season.
“Going into my 25th year, I’ve never recruited one kid. I can see them coming from Purdy Elementary, and Harbor Ridge, and KPMS,” Filkins said. “I know what kind of team and what kind of kids they’re going to be so we’re happy to serve the community in that way. For us, keeping the team healthy and avoiding injuries is always going to be important. But we coach every single kid on our team so if somebody goes down, the next man is up.”
“The strength is our ability to play eleven as one,” Filkins said. “For everybody to understand their role and understand how important each person’s component is to our success.”