Staff writer Lauren Smith’s top three high school football games to watch this weekend in South Sound:
Class 4A No. 3 Gig Harbor Tides (6-0, 3-0 Narrows) at No. 6 Olympia Bears (6-0, 3-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Ingersoll Stadium
About the Tides: Nothing has slowed down Gig Harbor — and it doesn’t appear anything will. Behind QB Davis Alexander (84-131, 2,104 total yards, 28 total TDs, zero INTs), the Tides are explosive. Bottling up Alexander might be the only way to keep Gig Harbor’s offense in check — the Tides haven’t scored fewer than 40 points in a game this season.
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About the Bears: Losing RB Scott Gunther (shoulder) last week at Stadium is a big blow to this offense. Before he went down, Gunther (133 carries, 1,143 yards, 17 TDs) led the South Sound in rushing TDs. With Gunther out indefinitely, coach Bill Beattie said a mixed bag of RBs will carry the load. Senior WR David Woodward also could become more central.
Olympian pick: Gig Harbor, 35-21.
Eatonville Cruisers (2-4, 1-3 1A Evergreen) at Class 1A No. 9 Tenino Beavers (5-1, 3-1)
7 p.m. Friday, Tenino High School
About the Cruisers: After winning the league title last season, the Cruisers have all but fallen out of playoff contention. Eatonville is on a three-game losing streak — all to league opponents. QB Jacob McCormick (94-160, 1,265 passing yards, 14 TDs, five INTs) continues to distribute regularly to a handful of receivers, though lately at a cost — all five of his interceptions this season have occurred during the past three games.
About the Beavers: A win this week puts Tenino in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot — the top three teams from the 1A Evergreen move on. With Rochester (4-2, 3-1) out of contention for not meeting the league’s 2A independent requirements, a win sets up next week’s game at Montesano (4-2, 3-1), and could decide the league’s No. 2 playoff seed, which guarantees home-field advantage. The Beavers continue to rely heavily on RB Thomas Pier (168 carries, 1,064 yards, 17 TDs), who had three rushing TDs last week against Aberdeen.
Olympian pick: Tenino, 28-7.
Bellarmine Lions (5-1, 3-0 4A Narrows) at Yelm Tornados (4-2, 1-2)
7 p.m. Friday, Yelm High School
About the Lions: Bellarmine’s only loss was in OT to No. 4 Gonzaga Prep in Week 2, 34-28. Bellarmine is in a three-way tie at the top of the 4A Narrows with Gig Harbor and Olympia. The Lions are plenty solid on the ground thanks to the legs of RB Ahmad Lewis (163 carries, 953 yards, 12 TDs), who has scored 40 percent of Bellarmine’s TDs this season. But halting Lewis could just open up more room for WR Blake Wilcoxen (31 receptions, 521 yards, five TDs).
About the Tornados: Last week’s fourth-quarter comeback at Evergreen (Vancouver) gave Yelm some spin. And the Tornados need some. Yelm currently sits on the wrong side of the fence for a playoff berth (fourth in the 4A Narrows, top three advance). Both of its losses were to league opponents. RB Brandon Thompson continues to rack up yardage — 167 yards and one TD last week. The Tornados, though, have had success in the air — QB Daylon Matthews has tossed 15 TDs this season.
Olympian pick: Bellarmine, 42-28.