Chase Wittmers and the Peninsula Seahawks came together for a team meeting in September after a loss that dropped their record to 0-2.
Whether it was that conversation — or the team-building activities that followed at practice — it worked.
Because since then, that same Seahawks squad won their next four games, allowing just ten points per game in the process.
“We all talked and came together as a team Monday, following the Skyline game… which really helped us come together and start playing together,” Wittmers said.
And if there’s any silver lining to the opening losses, it’s that both games were out-of-league, meaning Peninsula currently shares the top spot in the SSC with a 4-0 league record.
Coach Ross Filkins praised his defense in the midst of a dominant stretch.
“We have a very flexible defensive system,” Filkins said. “We’re able to provide a lot of different looks to our opponent. We can present some challenges, but our players are doing a good job at not giving up the big play.”
It’s hard to imagine such flexibility without a player like Wittmers, who can play on both sides of the ball.
Though Wittmers — who has been at the forefront of the Seahawks passing attack at wide receiver — primarily plays offense, he’s helped out the defense as well, getting time at defensive end.
“When I’m in the game, it’s a passing situation, so I have one job — get the quarterback,” Wittmers said. “It’s not a lot a pressure and you just get to go out and have fun.”
On the receiving end, Wittmers has put together quite the senior season, catching 34 balls for 452 yards and three touchdowns.
But Wittmers would rather praise his teammates than dwell on his accolades.
“[Quarterback] Peyton Bice has stepped up tremendously as a senior coming in,” Wittmers said. “[It’s his] first year starting. He’s done a great job hitting all of the receivers as well as the running backs in the passing game which has helped out a lot.”
That’s not to say Wittmers isn’t a dominant player on the field. In fact, Filkins knows how much of a mismatch the wideout can be.
“[Chase] is so strong and is such a physical presence,” Filkins said. “That’s not typical in high school to have somebody that’s so powerful and strong with great blocking and catching abilities.
“He plays with great leverage. He’s always been a fantastic open-field blocker as well. Probably the best open-field blocking receiver I’ve had in my 25 years here.”
With just three games on the remaining schedule, Peninsula shares a lead with Yelm for the top spot in the standings. Their head-to-head matchup — which is set for this Friday at Roy Anderson Field — could very well decide the winner of the SSC.
Wittmers doesn’t see any change coming to his approach.
“Just keep playing together as a team,” Wittmers said. “Win one game a week. That’s our focus this year, and it always has been.”
And with a vital contest against Yelm coming, Filkins isn’t worried about the opponent.
The idea of winning one game a week resounded in Filkins’ approach, too.
“We need to really focus on preparation for each week and continue to improve and get better,” Filkins said. “And just find a way to get one win a week. It’s totally cliche, but I’ll tell you what — it’s our total focus, and if we can continue to do that, it’s going to be a very successful season.”