OLYMPIA — The Olympia High School football team’s playoff future now depends on what happens over the next two weeks after dropping a 27-21 decision to Gig Harbor at Ingersoll Stadium.
Friday’s loss drops the Bears to 2-2 in 4A Narrows League play. Olympia is in fourth place, a half-game behind Central Kitsap (3-2).
Central Kitsap owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bears after last week’s 28-21 come-from-behind win, meaning Olympia needs to win out and get some help in order to be one of the league’s three postseason-bound teams.
Two games remain – at league-leader and No. 8-ranked Bellarmine Prep and then a home game vs. Yelm.
“We’re in trouble now,” Bears coach Bill Beattie said.
The last time Olympia failed to make the postseason was 2004, when it finished 4-6 overall and 2-5 in the Narrows.
Not even halfway into the first quarter, Gig Harbor (6-1 overall, 4-0 4A Narrows), with its Oregon-like up-tempo offense, had a 14-0 lead on touchdown runs of 6 and
12 yards by Sterling Brown and Connor Scanlan.
The Bears had no answer for Brown. In the first half alone, he averaged 9.7 yards on 24 carries, gaining 232 yards.
The junior’s longest run – 34 yards in the Tides’ final offensive drive of the first half – put him over the 200-yard mark. He finished with 310 yards on 46 carries and a pair of touchdowns; his 1-yard score in the fourth quarter pushed the Tides’ lead to 27-14. The 310 yards easily surpasses his previous career-high of 209.
“He runs like he’s 6-(foot-)3 and 220 (pounds),” Tides coach Aaron Chantler said of his 5-foot-11, 185-pound running back.
A year after failing to qualify for the postseason with a 3-7 overall record, Gig Harbor’s win clinched a playoff spot and a top-two finish in the league standings.
“This is a huge win for our program,” said Chantler, whose team is on a six-game winning streak.
“To have the turnaround we’ve had in a year is phenomenal.”
Gig Harbor held a 14-7 lead at halftime with Olympia’s first-half score coming on the wildest of plays.
Facing a third-and-5 from the 39 inside 9 minutes left in the first half, Olympia quarterback Derrick Becker scrambled to his right, then to his left and found Braeden Neal, who zigzagged his way through tackles for a 61-yard catch-and-run TD. Neal had three catches for 97 yards, and Becker threw a career-high 311 yards on 22 of 38 completions and two touchdowns.
Olympia tied it at 14 on Mitch Fettig’s 32-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone, but Gig Harbor came right back.
On the Tides’ ensuing possession, they took the lead for good on backup quarterback Davis Alexander’s 5-yard keeper, a drive set up by Brown’s kickoff return to the Olympia 34.
“As soon as we had that momentum,” Beattie said, “they took it right back.”