Sure there was a nonleague breather wedged in there, but other than that the Thunderbirds had to find a way to knock off three of the EvCo’s premier squads over a four-week stretch – with two of those games on the road.
An unenviable task for sure, but Tumwater found a way to emerge from the gauntlet – credit a stellar defense and a powerful ground game for that.
Ronnie Hastie scored twice, Daniel Hinkle hit Kyle Warner on a 64-yard touchdown pass, and the Tumwater defense held running back Zack Baldwin in check as the No. 3 T-Birds went on the road and routed previously undefeated Centralia, 40-7, on Friday night.
“The coaches were super and the players were awesome tonight,” Tumwater coach Sid Otton said.
Tumwater (5-1) now sits alone atop the Evergreen standings with a 3-0 mark.
Centralia (5-1, 2-1) rallied late last week, scoring two touchdowns in the final three minutes to knock off North Thurston, 42-41.
In this game, Tumwater’s defense simply didn’t allow the Tigers any opportunities for such late-game heroics. The T-Birds limited Baldwin, who entered averaging 225 rushing yards a game, to 94 yards on 23 carries.
The T-Birds rolled up 557 yards of offense – rushing for 440 yards on 44 carries.
“That’s almost 1,100 yards in two weeks, which is pretty incredible for our offense,” Otton said. “The first two weeks of the season we were averaging around 2.7 yards a carry, so it’s a major improvement. The kids have just improved that much over the season.”
Hastie paced the Tumwater ground game, running for 116 yards on nine carries. Christian Bush added 55 yards on eight carries and a score, while teammate Riley Prentice finished with 50 yards on seven carries and a TD as the T-Birds won for the fifth consecutive time since opening the year with an overtime loss to 4A Olympia.
Tumwater, which held a 298-54 advantage in total yards in the first half, scored on its first four possessions to grab a 28-0 halftime lead.