Friday night’s Week 7 high school football games are in the books, with league title races becoming more clear. Here are five takeaways from this week’s action in the South Sound.
Peninsula in driver’s seat of 3A SSC
There are few programs around the state can match the consistency of longtime coach Ross Filkins’ Seahawks. Year in and year out, Peninsula (5-2 overall, 5-0 SSC 3A) contends for league championships, and with Friday night’s 31-28 win over Yelm (4-3, 4-1), this year is no different. Both teams went into the game tied atop the standings, undefeated in league play. A Yelm win would have put the Tornados in prime position to take the league title, as Yelm already knocked off third-place Gig Harbor earlier this season. But the Seahawks weren’t interested in losing at Roy Anderson Field.
Peninsula never has four- and five-star recruits, but no coach gets more out of his players than Filkins. Count on Peninsula to have a strong running game and defense every year, thanks to a system that runs like a well-oiled machine. The players are different from year to year, but the results are the same. It’s a testament to the winning culture Filkins has created at Peninsula.
“We’re not the biggest or the best, but we just play every play and do our jobs,” said linebacker Nolan Casey.
With Friday night’s win, Peninsula is in the driver’s seat for the 3A SSC title but doesn’t have it wrapped up yet, as the Seahawks still have next week’s Fish Bowl rivalry game against Gig Harbor and the regular season finale against Capital. But the biggest hurdle so far has been cleared, and now Peninsula has the head-to-head win over Yelm.
Rushing attack makes Seahawks tough to defend
There’s one thing you can be sure of with a Filkins-coached team: The Seahawks are going to run the football and dare you to stop them. This year’s team is led by junior Sean Skladany, a bruising, 6-foot-2, 212-pound back who runs with speed and power. Skladany rushed 10 times for two touchdowns and 100 yards in the win.
The yards leader for the Seahawks was running back Shawn Leonard, more of a shifty back, who rushed 24 times for 168 yards. Landon Sims added 36 yards on six carries and a touchdown. In total, Peninsula racked up 298 yards on the ground.
The different looks Peninsula threw at Yelm in the running game kept the Tornado off balance.
“It makes it hard for teams to prepare,” Skladany said. “They don’t know what running back is going to go off that game.”
Yelm coach Jason Ronquillo said it’s difficult to game plan against Peninsula.
“They’re tough to prepare for,” he said. “They’ve got a dozen different formations and three or four different running backs that can all run it well.”
Tumwater will take 2A EVCO
Barring a total meltdown, it looks like No. 1 Tumwater (7-0 overall, 3-0 EvCo 2A) will take the Class 2A EvCo this season after Friday night’s 34-0 win over a banged-up No. 5 W.F. West (6-1, 2-1).
The game was close initially, before W.F. West lost two of its best playermakers to injury in the first half, with running backer Jaiyden Camoza only getting two carries before an ankle injury forced him to spend the rest of the game on crutches. A shoulder injury took quarterback Josiah Johnson out of the game.
“Any time you lose kids like that, it’s tough.” said Tumwater coach Bill Beattie. “They’re a tough, physical team. They were going to give us everything we could handle. We knew it was going to be a 48-minute game.”
Dylan Paine led the way for the T-Birds with 26 carries for 194 yards and three touchdowns. Jaylen Clay snagged three interceptions for Tumwater.
“Watching film over and over again, I learned their routes,” Clay said. “I stayed on top, and once the ball was in the air I told myself, ‘Go get it.’”
“Jaylen’s a hidden gem,” said Beattie. “People don’t know so much about him, but he’s a very good player on both sides of the ball.”
Steilacoom flashes explosive offense
For Eatonville to have a shot at beating Steilacoom on the road, the Cruisers were going to have to figure out a way to slow down the Sentinels’ air raid.
That didn’t happen, as Steilacoom showed once again why it has one of the state’s best offenses in Class 2A. The Sentinels racked up more than 300 yards of offense through the air, scoring each of their five touchdowns via the pass to cruise by Eatonville, 35-14.
Steilacoom (5-2) took a one-game lead over the Cruisers (4-3) in the Class 2A SPSL Mountain with the win and could clinch and undefeated division title next week against River Ridge in Lacey.
Quarterback Chance McDonald completed 17-of-22 passes for 308 yards, five touchdowns and an interception. Logan Brady racked up four touchdowns and 118 yards on nine catches, and five-star recruit Emeka Egbuka caught six passes for 144 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s a blessing to have that many guys and all of that talent in a receiving corps,” McDonald said. “I’m grateful for it every day I come to practice.”
Egbuka was having a relatively quiet night (by his standards) when he caught a 99-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
Eatonville quarterback Caden Jumper rushed 16 times for 128 yards and both of Eatonville’s touchdowns, while completing 8-of-14 passes for 120 yards with one interception.
Big week looming
This time of year, there are plenty of big games to choose from every week. Next week is no different.
In the 3A SSC, Peninsula has its annual Fish Bowl crosstown rivalry game with Gig Harbor on Friday night at Roy Anderson Field. A win for the Seahawks would seal a league title for Peninsula, while a Gig Harbor win would create a three-way tie atop the league standings.
In the 3A PCL, No. 3 Lincoln (5-2 overall, 5-0 PCL 3A) travels to Harry Lang Stadium to face No. 7 Lakes (5-1, 4-1) on Friday night in an important matchup. A Lincoln win would set up a league title showdown with Bethel (5-2, 5-2) on Nov. 1, while a Lakes win would keep the Lancers in the league title hunt.
In the 4A NPSL, No. 2 Kennedy Catholic (7-0 overall, 4-0 NPSL 4A) hosts Kentwood (6-1, 4-0) at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Highline Memorial Stadium in the 4A NPSL league championship game.
And in the 1A Nisqually league, a pair of unbeatens meet at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner, as No. 8 Cascade Christian (6-0 overall, 3-0 Nisqually 1A) hosts Charles Wright (7-0, 3-0) in what is likely the league championship game.
Staff writer Lauren Smith and contributing reporter Dave Weber contributed to this story.