Ross Filkins’ 121 wins at Peninsula are more than twice as many as any other coach in school history. PETER HALEY The News Tribune file, 2012
Ross Filkins’ 121 wins at Peninsula are more than twice as many as any other coach in school history. PETER HALEY The News Tribune file, 2012

Gateway: Sports

Gig Harbor, Peninsula share more than football rivalry

November 24, 2015 07:00 AM

UPDATED December 02, 2015 10:01 AM

Two teams. One community.

That’s how Ross Filkins and Aaron Chantler describe high school football in the Gig Harbor/Key Peninsula area.

“I think (Filkins) and I have really tried to focus on celebrating that both of these programs are really good,” said Chantler, coach of the Tides the past four seasons.

Filkins, whose 121 wins in 21 seasons are twice as many as any other Peninsula coach, took it a step further.

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“One of these days,” he said, “it would be awesome if both teams won state championships and whoever won the Fish Bowl determined who was the best in the state.”

It hasn’t always been this way.

Peninsula High School has fielded a football team since its inception in 1947. Consolidating students from the old Gig Harbor and Vaughn high schools, it was the only game in town.

At their climax of independence, the Seahawks claimed the area’s only state title with a wild, 35-34, win over Pullman in the Kingdome in 1978.

One of these days, it would be awesome if both teams won state championships and whoever won the Fish Bowl determined who was the best in the state.

Ross Filkins, Peninsula football coach

One year later, the new Gig Harbor High School opened and many of the kids that would have gone to Peninsula played for the Tides.

Gig Harbor finished 1-8 in its inaugural season, including a 48-0 pummeling at the hands of the Seahawks.

The Tides found their footing quickly, though, and won the next four meetings. The rivalry game was eventually dubbed the Fish Bowl, in honor of the area’s rich maritime roots.

In 1981, Gig Harbor claimed the Pierce County League title and made its first trip to the state playoffs. Peninsula finished 0-9.

Perhaps the community wasn’t ready for two teams.

But things have changed.

These days, both programs are perennial playoff contenders.

Maybe one day Filkins’ wish of dueling state title teams will come true. For now, they will have to settle for shared history.

TITLE RUN

The local community was never more united than in 1978.

Kids from all over Gig Harbor joined those from the Key Peninsula to capture the AA crown (now considered Class 3A).

 
  
Skansi, 1978. (Staff file.)

“It was a one high school town,” said Paul Skansi, star wide receiver and kick returner for the state-champion Seahawks.

“Obviously, the whole town was aligned to Peninsula, so that was really cool.”

Skansi, 54, remembers the title game well.

“Just one of those games where it was back and forth,” he said. “You just never knew.”

After Pullman took a 34-28 lead halfway through the fourth quarter, Skansi returned the kickoff 89 yards for what would be the game-clinching score.

“That was pretty crazy,” he said.

Perhaps crazier, it was Skansi’s second year playing football. His first was the year before, as a junior, when the Seahawks lost the state title game to Burlington-Edison.

A talented soccer and basketball player, Skansi said his parents didn’t want him to play football because they thought he was too small.

But Peninsula coach Larry Lunke talked him into it.

Larry Lunke led Peninsula to a 39-8 record in four seasons, including an 8-2 record in the state playoffs.

“He was the guy who actually got me to play,” said Skansi. “He’s a motivator.”

Lunke led the Seahawks to a 39-8 record in four seasons, an 8-2 record in the state playoffs and the school’s only two state championship appearances.

Skansi went on to play at the University of Washington and spent nine seasons in the NFL, including eight with the Seattle Seahawks.

He currently lives in Poulsbo and is a scout for the San Diego Chargers.

Skansi’s memories from 1978 include a pregame celebration at Jerisich Park before the Kingbowl.

“They had our team there and the fishing fleet and almost the whole town was out in the middle of the day to send us off,” he said.

“It was a small, tight-knit community.”

THE TIDE TURNS

By the 1990s, times had changed.

The Tides and Seahawks had spent years together in the same league, which had made the Fish Bowl quite a rivalry.

“It was definitely fierce and bitter,” said Joe Jarzynka, a 1995 Gig Harbor graduate.

In 1993, the Tides entered the crosstown matchup carrying a nine-game losing streak to the Seahawks.

It was definitely fierce and bitter.

Joe Jarzynka, former Gig Harbor player talking about the Fish Bowl

With new coach Steve Gervais, Gig Harbor’s wide-open offense propelled the Tides to a 7-0 record while leading the state in scoring at 46.8 points per game.

Peninsula, led by longtime assistant turned first-year head coach Bill Stout, entered at 6-1 and was the defending league champion.

The Seahawks raced to a 14-0 lead. But the Tides weathered the storm, then created one of their own.

 
  
Jarzynka, 1994. (Staff file.)

Jarzynka, a junior slot receiver, defensive back and kicker, sparked the rally with a 40-yard punt return to set up Gig Harbor’s first score.

He intercepted three passes, kicked a field goal and made all the extra points in a streak-snapping, 31-14, romp over the Seahawks.

“Turning the tide on the Fish Bowl game, that was a lot of fun,” Jarzynka said. “Just winning in general, always cures everything.”

Gig Harbor’s winning had just begun.

After securing their first league title since 1988, the Tides’ dream season continued to a 12-0 start before they eventually fell to Prosser, 22-20, in the state championship.

The program was forever changed.

The Tides won the next two league titles and Fish Bowls. Since 1993, Gig Harbor has won 17 of 23 games against the rival Seahawks, although the two teams haven’t been in the same league since Peninsula stepped down from Class 4A after the 2000 season.

Since 1993, Gig Harbor has won 17 of 23 games against Peninsula.

Jarzynka led Gig Harbor over Peninsula and to the state playoffs again in 1994 before playing for the Washington Huskies.

At age 38, he currently works for a real estate company in Gig Harbor and remembers the Fish Bowl fondly.

“I appreciate the fact that they still play the game,” he said. “Because it’s good for the community. But it’s unfortunate that they’re not in the same league anymore.

“It was big time.”

FAMILY TIES

Through time and relationships, the rivalry lines can often blur.

Bob Leslie was Gig Harbor’s first coach. His son, Rob, played quarterback for the Seahawks against Jarzynka in 1993 and ’94.

Jeff Hunt played alongside his brother Steve and Skansi at Peninsula before coaching the Tides from 1989-92.

Gary Turnbull’s allegiances are even more divided.

 
  
Turnbull, 1960. (Staff file.)

Turnbull, 73, graduated from Peninsula in 1961 and was a halfback and linebacker for the Seahawks.

He helped lead Peninsula to a 6-1 finish his senior season under coach Larry Rodgers. The Seahawks’ only loss was to league champion North Thurston, 13-7. Turnbull ran for 99 yards in the game.

Turnbull says Rodgers, whose 60 wins are second-most to Filkins in school history, had a demeanor similar to Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.

“Larry was on the sidelines, really into the game,” Turnbull said. “He’d be running up and down, getting you motivated.”

Turnbull has stayed close to Gig Harbor since high school, working for years in the evergreen business.

His oldest son, Troy, graduated from Gig Harbor in 1987 and played for the Tides.

Turnbull’s younger son, Trevor, was a linebacker at Peninsula, graduating in 1996.

60 The win total for coach Larry Rodgers is second most in Peninsula history.

Both Troy and Trevor have sons of their own, carrying on the tradition.

Troy’s oldest, T.J., graduated in 2013 after playing for the Tides.

Trevor, whose oldest son Matthew is a freshman at Peninsula, estimates that between his three sons and Troy’s two youngest, there will likely “be a Turnbull in the Fish Bowl for the next 10 years.”

It’s a prospect that excites Gary.

“I’m about as proud of a grandparent as there could be,” he said.

Even if he does have to cheer for both sides in the Fish Bowl.

“I’m just glad our family’s out here in the wonderful Gig Harbor, Peninsula community,” he said. “It’s a great place to raise a family and go to school. Life couldn’t be better.”

Surely, there’s a lot of people connected to both programs who would agree.

Kenny Via: 253-597-8651, @kenny_via

Kenny Via graduated in 1996 from Peninsula, where he played football for Bill Stout and Ross Filkins. He never won a Fish Bowl.

ALL-TIME RECORDS

Compiled by Kenny Via from The News Tribune and Peninsula Gateway archives along with Peninsula High School yearbooks.

Peninsula: Overall record (352-272-17; .562 winning pct.)

 
Fans cheer for the Seahawks. (Staff file.)

Coach: Ross Filkins (121-88; .579 winning pct.; 4-6 district playoffs, 3-5 state playoffs; 6-15 in Fish Bowl)

  • 2015: 4-6
  • 2014*: 10-2 (def. Lakeside in district playoff, 47-19; def. Oak Harbor in state opening round, 42-14; lost to Bellevue in quarterfinals, 31-7)
  • 2013*: 8-4 (def. Chief Sealth in district playoff, 55-7; def. Bonney Lake in state opening round, 30-7; lost to Bellevue in quarterfinals, 48-27)
  • 2012*: 9-3 (def. Oak Harbor in district playoff, 36-12; def. Nathan Hale in state opening round, 45-0; lost to Bellevue in quarterfinals, 40-3)
  • 2011: 8-2 (lost to Mount Si in district playoff, 17-14)
  • 2010: 5-5 (lost to O’Dea in district playoff, 21-7)
  • 2009: 8-2 (lost to Glacier Peak in district playoff, 49-48 2OT)
  • 2008: 7-3 (lost to Mount Si in district playoff, 33-9)
  • 2007: 6-4 (lost to Ferndale in district playoff, 41-9)
  • 2006*: 8-2 (lost to Issaquah in district playoff, 42-14)
  • 2005: 3-7
  • 2004: 1-9
  • 2003: 4-5
  • 2002: 7-3 (def. Tyeee in district playoff, 35-9; lost to Columbia River in state opening round, 29-0)
  • 2001: 6-3
  • 2000: 5-4
  • 1999: 3-6
  • 1998: 2-7
  • 1997: 4-5
  • 1996*: 7-3 (lost to Stanwood in state opening round, 27-14)
  • 1995: 6-3

Coach: Bill Stout (14-6, .700 winning pct.; 0-2 state playoffs; 0-2 in Fish Bowl)

  • 1994: 7-3 (lost to Capital in state opening round, 41-13)
  • 1993: 7-3 (lost to Lake Stevens in state opening round, 21-10)

Coach: Dale Cote (28-11, .718 winning pct.; 0-1 in state play-ins; 1-1 state playoffs; 4-0 in Fish Bowl)

  • 1992*: 9-2 (def. Anacortes in state opening round, 35-21; lost to Hazen in quarterfinals, 16-14)
  • 1991: 6-3
  • 1990: 5-4
  • 1989: 8-2 (lost to North Kitsap in state play-in game, 21-20)

Coach: Karst Brandsma (43-33, .566 winning pct.; 1-3 state playoffs; 5-3 in Fish Bowl)

  • 1988: 5-4
  • 1987: 6-3
  • 1986* 9-2 (def. Tahoma in state opening round, 21-20; lost to Sedro-Wooley in quarterfinals, 40-27)
  • 1985*: 9-1 (lost to Capital in state opening round, 41-21)
  • 1984*: 6-4 (lost to Olympic in state opening round, 34-14)
  • 1983: 4-5
  • 1982: 4-5
  • 1981: 0-9

Coach: Steve Bruner (1-8, .111 winning pct.; 0-1 in Fish Bowl)

  • 1980: 1-8

Coach: Larry Lunke (39-8, .830 winning pct.; 8-2 state playoffs; 1-0 in Fish Bowl)

  • 1979*: 11-1 (def. Battle Ground in state opening round, 38-14; def. Liberty in quarterfinals, 27-7; lost to Arlington in semifinals, 24-23)
  • 1978*: 13-0 (def. Capital in state opening round, 28-27; def. Sedro-Wooley in quarterfinals, 35-16; def. Othello in semifinals, 33-20; def. Pullman in championship, 35-34)
  • 1977*: 10-2 (def. Hoquiam in state quarterfinals, 28-10; def. Pullman in semifinals, 28-2; lost to Burlington-Edison in championship, 57-30)
  • 1976: 5-5

Coach: Raoul Ancira (11-16, .407 winning pct.)

  • 1975: 3-6
  • 1974: 4-5
  • 1973: 4-5

Coach: Don Pulisevich (15-30-3, .344 winning pct.)

  • 1972: 4-5-1
  • 1971: 3-5-1
  • 1970: 2-7
  • 1969: 0-9-1
  • 1968: 6-4

Coach: Dele Gunnerson (8-18-1, .315 winning pct.)

  • 1967: 4-5-1
  • 1966: 4-4
  • 1965: 0-9

Coach Larry Rodgers (60-47-10, .556 winning pct.)

  • 1964: 0-7-2
  • 1963: 7-2
  • 1962: 4-4-1
  • 1961: 2-6
  • 1960: 6-1
  • 1959: 3-5
  • 1958: 5-2-1
  • 1957: 4-3-1
  • 1956*: 7-1
  • 1955: 6-1-1
  • 1954: 3-5
  • 1953: 5-2-1
  • 1952: 2-3-2
  • 1951: 1-4-1
  • 1950: 5-1

Coach: Roy Anderson (12-7-3, .614 winning pct.)

  • 1949: 3-4
  • 1948*: 6-1-1
  • 1947: 3-2-2 

*Outright league titles (14):

  • South Puget Sound 3A: 2012, 2013, 2014
  • Olympic League 3A: 2006
  • Pierce County (Shore Division): 1996
  • Pierce County: 1948, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1992
  • Seamount: 1977, 1978, 1979
  • West Central: 1956

Note: Peninsula also claims shared league titles in 1989, ’95, and 2002.

  • State titles: 1978
  • Best record: 13-0 (1978)
  • Winningest coach: Ross Filkins, 121 wins in 21 seasons
  • Longest winning streak: 24 games (1978-79)

Gig Harbor: Overall record (218-143; .604 winning pct.)

 
Fans cheer for the Tides. (Staff file.)

Coach: Aaron Chantler (30-13; .698 winning pct.; 3-0 in district playoffs; 0-3 in state; 3-1 in Fish Bowl)

  • 2015*: 10-1 (def. Mariner in district playoff, 45-0; lost to Skyline in state opening round, 17-15)
  • 2014*: 9-2 (def. Kent-Meridian in district playoff, 45-7; lost to Graham-Kapowsin in state opening round, 27-21)
  • 2013: 8-3 (def. Tahoma in district playoff, 56-14; lost to Wenatchee in state opening round, 33-31)
  • 2012: 3-7

Coach: Darren McKay (77-42; .647 winning pct.; 2-7 in district playoffs; 0-2 in state; 8-4 in Fish Bowl)

  • 2011: 5-5 (lost to Kentwood in district playoff, 19-16 2OT)
  • 2010: 6-4 (lost to Rogers in district playoff, 28-24)
  • 2009: 4-6 (lost to Federal Way in district playoff, 35-21)
  • 2008: 8-2 (lost to Federal Way in district playoff, 24-19)
  • 2007: 6-4 (lost to Bothell in district playoff, 35-0)
  • 2006*: 6-5 (def. Federal Way in district playoff, 35-16; lost to Pasco in state opening round, 47-14)
  • 2005*: 9-2 (def. Skyview in district playoff, 31-6; lost to Oak Harbor in state opening round, 28-14)
  • 2004: 8-2 (lost to Mountain View in district playoff, 20-14)
  • 2003*: 8-2 (lost to Lake Washington in district playoff, 14-10)
  • 2002: 5-4
  • 2001*: 7-2
  • 2000: 5-4

Coach: Mike McKinney (30-17; .638 winning pct.; 1-1 state playoffs; 4-1 in Fish Bowl)

  • 1999: 4-5
  • 1998: 6-3
  • 1997: 7-2
  • 1996: 5-4
  • 1995*: 8-3 (def. Lake Stevens in state opening round, 20-10; lost to O’Dea in quarterfinals, 34-0)

Coach: Steve Gervais (20-3; .870 winning pct.; 3-2 state playoffs; 2-0 in Fish Bowl)

  • 1994*: 8-2 (lost to Eastside Catholic in state opening round, 14-13)
  • 1993*: 12-1 (def. Centralia in state opening round, 27-13; def. Hazen in quarterfinals, 34-0; def. Capital in semifinals, 21-14; lost to Prosser in state title, 22-20)

Coach: Jeff Hunt (11-25; .306 winning pct.; 0-4 in Fish Bowl)

  • 1992: 2-7
  • 1991: 5-4
  • 1990: 2-7
  • 1989: 2-7

Coach: Don Lichty (22-16; .579 winning pct.; 1-1 state playoffs; 0-4 in Fish Bowl)

  • 1988*: 9-2 (def. Tahoma in state opening round, 32-6; lost to Tumwater in quarterfinals, 36-12)
  • 1987: 4-5
  • 1986: 6-3
  • 1985: 3-6

Coach: Bob Leslie (28-27; .509 winning pct.; 0-1 state playoffs; 4-2 in Fish Bowl)

  • 1984: 3-6
  • 1983: 6-3
  • 1982: 6-3
  • 1981*: 7-3 (lost to Eastmont in state opening round, 13-0)
  • 1980: 5-4
  • 1979: 1-8 (no seniors)

*Outright league titles (11):

  • Narrows 4A: 2014, 2015
  • Narrows League (Bridge Division): 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006
  • Pierce County (Shore Division): 1993, 1994, 1995
  • Pierce County: 1981, 1988

Note: Gig Harbor also claims shared league titles in 2002 and ’08.

  • State titles: None
  • Best record: 12-1 (1993)
  • Winningest coach: Darren McKay, 77 wins in 12 seasons
  • Longest winning streak: 12 games (1993) 

Fish Bowl:

All-time scores (Gig Harbor leads series, 21-16)

  • 2015: Gig Harbor 40, Peninsula 14
  • 2014: Gig Harbor 30, Peninsula 29
  • 2013: Gig Harbor 27, Peninsula 20
  • 2012: Peninsula 37, Gig Harbor 6
  • 2011: Peninsula 48, Gig Harbor 9
  • 2010: Gig Harbor 31, Peninsula 7
  • 2009: Peninsula 38, Gig Harbor 7
  • 2008: Gig Harbor 33, Peninsula 0
  • 2007: Gig Harbor 35, Peninsula 7
  • 2006: Peninsula 14, Gig Harbor 3
  • 2005: Gig Harbor 16, Peninsula 6
  • 2004: Gig Harbor 28, Peninsula 11
  • 2003: Gig Harbor 24, Peninsula 0
  • 2002: Peninsula 14, Gig Harbor 10
  • 2001: Gig Harbor 42, Peninsula 13
  • 2000: Gig Harbor 38, Peninsula 35*
  • 1999: Gig Harbor 38, Peninsula 20
  • 1998: Gig Harbor 33, Peninsula 9
  • 1997: Gig Harbor 16, Peninsula 14
  • 1996: Peninsula 30, Gig Harbor 23
  • 1995: Gig Harbor 16, Peninsula 14
  • 1994: Gig Harbor 35, Peninsula 28
  • 1993: Gig Harbor 31, Peninsula 14
  • 1992: Peninsula 35, Gig Harbor 7
  • 1991: Peninsula 34, Gig Harbor 14
  • 1990: Peninsula 10, Gig Harbor 7
  • 1989: Peninsula 21, Gig Harbor 7
  • 1988: Peninsula 19, Gig Harbor 18**
  • 1987: Peninsula 42, Gig Harbor 28
  • 1986: Peninsula 53, Gig Harbor 29
  • 1985: Peninsula 14, Gig Harbor 12
  • 1984: Peninsula 29, Gig Harbor 6
  • 1983: Gig Harbor 41, Peninsula 6
  • 1982: Gig Harbor 37, Peninsula 0
  • 1981: Gig Harbor 25, Peninsula 12
  • 1980: Gig Harbor 6, Peninsula 0
  • 1979: Peninsula 48, Gig Harbor 0

*Played at Bremerton Memorial Field because of a bomb threat at Purdy.

**Played at Tacoma Dome.