LAKEWOOD — The Peninsula Seahawks needed a spark Friday night as they sat in the visitors’ locker room at Harry Lang Stadium.
Peninsula trailed the high-powered Lakes Lancers 14-6 at halftime, and Seahawks head coach Ross Filkins told them they’d come out flat.
Filkins and the rest of the coaching staff cleared the room and left the players to inspire each other. The coach gave them one rule: Don’t come out until their heads were on straight.
The message was received.
Peninsula, which lost 19 starters to graduation last year, rallied to win its second consecutive South Puget Sound League 3A championship with a 28-14 victory at Lakes. The Seahawks will host Chief Sealth, the No. 6 team from the Metro League, at 7 p.m. Saturday at Roy Anderson Field in a winner-to-state, loser-out matchup.
Peninsula last won consecutive league titles during a three-peat in 1995-97, Filkins said. Friday’s win was the Seahawks’ second straight against Lakes. Last year’s was the first in school history.
“Coach gave it to us hard,” said Avega Siolo, Peninsula’s senior running back and linebacker who finished with 18 carries for 157 yards and a touchdown before he left in the fourth quarter with cramps in both of his calves.
Junior Major Ali added 10 rushes for 87 yards and scored on a pair of third-quarter runs, the second of which gave Peninsula (6-3 overall, 5-0 league) its first lead at 21-14.
It was a different attitude altogether in the second half. Filkins said the game plan changed from trying to wear down the Lancers with outside runs to powering it right up the middle.
The Seahawks coaches got the offensive linemen together on the sideline just before the second-half kickoff and told them they needed to beat the players in front of them.
“We said, ‘That’s it,’ ” Filkins recalled. “This game is on you guys. You’ve got to take ownership of that, and they took it.”
Peninsula ran nine straight times to open the third quarter and busted through with 79 yards. Siolo had runs of 23 and 20 on the drive, and Ali’s 18-yard touchdown up the middle capped it. Quarterback Robert Kvinsland connected with tight end Cameron Blackwell for a two-point conversion to pull into a 14-14 tie.
The Seahawks had just 128 yards — 44 rushing — in the first two quarters.
That didn’t sit well with anyone, particularly the linemen.
“We came out fired up and really took it to them,” junior Hayden Smith said. “Once we got on a roll, got our game going, they couldn’t stop us.”
Lakes (3-6, 3-2) tried to answer with a drive into Peninsula territory, but junior Marque Kriebel intercepted a Nick Webster pass on fourth and 7 from the Seahawks’ 22, and the momentum shifted again.
It didn’t take nearly as long for Peninsula to drive the length of the field, just four plays and 77 yards — all runs. Siolo got a block on the right edge from sophomore Kyle Olson-Urbon to break a 40-yard carry, and Ali immediately followed with a 27-yard score with 3:18 left in the third quarter.
Lakes fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the Seahawks recovered at the 14. Kvinsland handed the ball twice to Siolo, who went in from 9 yards out to put Peninsula’s second touchdown on the board in just a 44-second span.
“He’s just an amazing runner,” Smith said of Siolo. “He runs so hard and never goes down on the first tackle. He just pushes the pile — he and Major both.”
Lakes got on the board early when Yisrael Stephens caught a screen pass from Webster and went 17 yards for a touchdown.
Kvinsland turned a broken play into an 8-yard scrambling score with 3:12 left in the opening quarter, but Peninsula’s extra point went wide and left the Seahawks trailing, 7-6.
The Lancers punched another one in with a little more than a minute to play in the half when Webster connected with Caleb Lyons on a 24-yard strike.
Webster finished 16-for-28 passing with 196 yards and two interceptions. Peninsula’s Will Hopkins had the first one, which also came on a fourth-down play in Seahawks’ territory.
Webster was just as dangerous on the ground, picking up 107 yards on 13 rushes. Lyons made nine receptions for 76 yards.
Kvinsland finished 8-of-17 passing for 84 yards. His only attempted pass in the second half resulted in a pass-interference penalty that set up a Peninsula first down, and his 47-yard lob to Olson-Urbon set up the Seahawks’ first score.
Peninsula stopped Lakes on fourth and 3 from the Seahawks’ 16 with 9:09 remaining, and it burned about nine minutes off the clock on a 13-play drive that wound up as a turnover on downs.
By then, with about 90 seconds left on the clock, the Seahawks’ league championship was all but sealed.
Filkins looked back at the team’s 0-3 start, acknowledged they were young when the season began but said they “grew up” in a 30-24 loss to Union in Vancouver, Wash.
“It’s our expectation,” he said of filling the roles of 19 graduated starters. “We take a lot of pride in that. We told them we will not compromise what we do.”