Yes, it’s only a summer camp title. But it could turn out to be a welcome sign for the 2014 Gig Harbor High football team.
The Tides took home the “Ludus” trophy recently while attending the Gridiron of Champions team camp, part of the Steve Gervais Academy at The Evergreen State College in Olympia.
The trophy is awarded to the winning team of the camp’s red zone tournament, and the term “Ludus” is named after the training ground of gladiators. The Tides beat Eastlake in the final on a pass from junior quarterback Davis Alexander to senior receiver Santana Johnson.
“It was like one of those feelings like you’re back under the Friday night lights,” Alexander said. “Everyone is screaming and yelling, you get to bring home that golden hammer. It was just awesome.”
While it’s certainly not comparable to regular season games, the win signified the continued growth of the Gig Harbor football program under head coach Aaron Chantler’s tutelage. The Tides had been in the Ludus final the last two seasons, but fell short. This year, they won it.
“We thought we’d be competitive, maybe somewhere in the middle of the pack,” Chantler said, “To win the Ludus was a really good sign for our kids.”
Competition was the name of the game throughout spring workouts and the team camp. Chantler said junior wide receiver and defensive back Cory Condon opened some eyes, as well as junior defensive back Keyell Davis.
“It was a very competitive camp,” Chantler said. “We got some questions answered. Cory and Keyell stepped up and took jobs.”
Davis will fill a utility role for the Tides’ secondary. He came in as a free safety, and is now getting time at all the positions in the secondary.
The Tides lost a talented senior class, which included a starting tailback and starting left tackle. But Gig Harbor is busy filling the holes.
“We still have the talent,” Alexander said. “Players just keep on coming up and filling that gap.”
Alexander said winning the Ludus trophy illustrated the team’s growth and talent level.
“It just shows how we can hang with any team,” Alexander said. “How we can come together and have that chemistry we had last year, being able to trust in each other. Even with all those big guys missing.”
Chantler said Alexander had a great camp and was mostly on-point with his decision making. The coach also pointed to linebacker Kale Wong, slot receiver Noah Samsen and defensive end Brandon Schmunk.
“Schmunk was tough to block, forced QBs to scramble,” Chantler said.
Wong forced a fumble against Bothell, propelling the Tides into the championship game against Eastlake. The team is brimming with confidence following the camp.
“It bodes well for the future,” Chantler said.