Community Sports

Sports Beat: Flu-ravaged Tides fall in football playoffs

Posted on November 10th, 2023 By:

The Gig Harbor (7-3, 6-1) football season abruptly ended with a 28-7 playoff loss to Marysville-Pilchuck on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Roy Anderson Field.

The Tides faced a formidable offensive and defensive line and gave away almost 25 pounds per position in the trenches. That proved to be the difference in the game as the Tomahawks rushed for 291 yards and three  touchdowns behind their hulking offensive line.

Gig Harbor senior quarterback Benji Park looks for a receiver against Marysville-Pilchuck in the Class 3A state football playoffs. Photo by Bryce Carithers

The Tides gained little on the ground, but Benji Park and the air attack managed 264 yards passing. That included a touchdown strike to sophomore Henry Blake in the game’s closing minutes to avoid a shutout.

That play was indicative of a team that never quit despite the fact that the flu bug ravaged the squad earlier in the week. Many Tides lineman play on both sides of the ball and the team just didn’t have the depth required to hold up against a much larger opponent.

The Tomahawks were a balanced and better team, with quick running backs, a solid linebacking crew and a fiery head coach. They will now try their luck against the defending state champion Yelm Tornados.

Passing game effective

Quarterback Park found open receivers, but they couldn’t break loose for many big gains. Senior Matt Ehler led the Tides in receiving yards with 77 on five catches, including a beauty on the sidelines to keep a drive alive. Senior Drake Matthies had six catches for 31 yards and was double teamed for a good portion of the game. Ben Stevens, another senior, had four athletic catches for 31 yards.

Gig Harbor senior receiver Ben Stevens makes a difficult catch against Marysville-Pilchuck during a state playoff game on Nov. 4. Photo by Bryce Carithers

Senior outside linebacker Nic Lang led the Tides on defense with four tackles and seven assists. Sophomore defensive lineman Keegan Johnson had three tackles and seven assists, senior linebacker Josh Riggs was solid with three tackles and five assists and sophomore defensive lineman Peyton Howard had two tackles with seven assists.

This Tide team will be remembered as the team that ended crosstown rival Peninsula’s long Fish Bowl winning streak. Park came off the bench in that game to rescue the Tides by throwing completion after completion and scored a last-minute touchdown run to secure a 21-20 win

That victory started a five-game winning streak for the Tides. Park went from his team’s third-string quarterback to a first-team All-South Sound Conference performer by the end of the year.

Key players departing, returning

Key players expected to return next season include running back Rylan Geldermann, receiver D.J. Darling, quarterbacks Tyler Stower and Koi Calhoun and several starting linemen.

Key seniors who played their final game for the Tides include Park, Matthies, Lang, Stevens, Riggs, Ehler, Jayden Mayes, Ayden Fink, Ryder Ruiz, Ryland Heckman, Jorden Felton, Ryder Truttmann, Julien Fisher, Adam Hurley, Evan Cook, Tor Olson and Judson Linnabary.

Gig Harbor, Peninsula at volleyball districts

Both local volleyball teams began district tournament play on Friday, Nov. 10, at Mount Tacoma High School. Gig Harbor and Peninsula tied for second place in the South Sound Conference behind state Class 3A No. 1-ranked  North Thurston.

Gig Harbor opened district play against Spanaway Lake at noon. Peninsula played Kent-Meridian at 2 p.m.

The Peninsula and Gig Harbor volleyball teams opened state tournament play on Friday, Nov. 11. Photo by David Turley

Peninsula brings experience and a proud reputation. The Seahawks finished second at state two years ago and fifth last year.

If both local teams win their first two matches, they would face off for the third time this season in a semifinal at noon Saturday, Nov. 11, at Capital High School. The teams split two previous matchups in league play.

The Class 3A state volleyball tournament is Nov. 17 and 18 at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

Peninsula, Gig Harbor open girls soccer state tournament

The Class 3A state soccer tournament begins Nov. 10 for both local teams as well.

Tenth-seeded Gig Harbor (14-3-2, 12-1) opens against seventh-seeded Lincoln of Seattle at 4 p.m. at Shoreline Stadium. No. 8 Peninsula (13-3-2, 11-1-2) faces No. 9 Shorecrest at 4 p.m. at Bellevue High. Wins would put the teams in quarterfinal games on Nov. 11.

The Tides and Seahawks both have experienced defenses, talented scorers and capable goalies and will not go down without a fight in a very talented Class 3A soccer field.

The Peninsula and Gig Harbor soccer teams both qualified for the Class 3A state tournament. Photo by Bryce Carithers

Peninsula’s Higgins third at state cross country

Peninsula phenom Elektra Higgins placed third at the state cross county championship on Saturday, Nov. 4, in the Tri-Cities. Only the Rodriguez sisters from Mercer Island (freshman Sophia and junior Victoria) finished faster than Higgins’ time of 17:44.8.

Higgins, a junior, won conference and district championships by wide margins while setting the school cross country record.

Peninsula senior Lola Sweet finished 13th in a time of 20:31.3.

The Gig Harbor girls finished fourth as a team team thanks to strong showings from sophomore Lejla Carlsson  (sixth place, 18:30.02), Taylor Sletner (13th, 18.48) and Alex Ferrier (25th place).

Rounding out the scoring were Clairabelle Simmonds, Ruby Savage and Laila Flynn for head coach Patty Ley’s team, which continues to be a force in cross country running.

Senior Johnathon Miles finished fifth in 15:46.4 for the Tides boys, who were ninth as a team. Senior Preston Fradet came in five seconds behind Miles for seventh place and underclassmen Joey Campbell, Christian Keck and Jack Greer contributed to the Tides’ point total.

Cooper Leavengood was the top male Peninsula runner, finishing the course in 17.17.3 for 86th position out of 193 runners.

Gig Harbor doubles team makes state

The Gig Harbor tennis duo of Hugh Vicente and Rylan Coovert punched a ticket to next spring’s Class 3A state tennis tournament by finishing fifth at districts on Oct. 28 at the Boeing Tennis Center.

The pair were upset by a good team from Lincoln of Seattle in the first round but recovered to defeat teams from Mount Tahoma, Auburn-Riverside and Central Kitsap to clinch their state tournament berth.

Peninsula’s Post second in diving

Peninsula Seahawk diver Makenna Post came oh so close to a state title but settled for second place at the state swimming and diving championships.

Post’s combined scores of 345.75 were just behind champion Ava Leer of Auburn-Riverside, who scored 360.10.

Peninsula diver Makenna Post finished second at the state Class 3A diving finals in Federal Way. Photo by Bryce Carithers

Both girls had substantially higher scores than any other participants in the diving finals.

Post capped a remarkable high school career that saw her win four consecutive league crowns and go down as one of the most talented divers in school history.

The swimming portion of the state championships is this weekend, Nov. 10 and 11, at the King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way. Several representatives from both schools will be on hand to compete against the state’s best.

Peninsula water polo wins postseason showdown vs. rival

The Tides and Seahawks water polo teams met for the third time this season at the Division 2 state tournament, with the Seahawks rallying for a 9-8 win.

The Tides got by first-round opponent Shorewood, 17-10, and started quickly against Peninsula, leading 3-0 after the first quarter.

The Seahawks kept improving their play in the second and third quarters to catch up to the Tides. The final quarter was a classic battle with the score going back-and-forth, point for point. Peninsula went ahead 9-8 with 1:21 remaining in the game and turned to their lockdown, physical defense to preserve the lead.

The Gig Harbor and Peninsula water polo teams pose for a group picture before the Seahawks’ 9-8 state tournament win.

Stadium of Tacoma beat the Seahawks, 7-5, in the D2 championship game.

By finishing second in Division II, Peninsula advanced to the state D1 championship for the first time in school history. The Seahawks dropped their D1 opener, 8-4, to Curtis on Thursday, Nov. 9, in a loser-out game.

Head coach Carter Gilmore’s Seahawks finished 16-3, including three close victories over crosstown rival Gig Harbor and an appearance at the difficult D-1 state championships.

Gig Harbor lost a 13-12 heartbreaker to Sammamish in the D2 third-place game, ending a successful season for head coach Alana Ponce and her Tides.