TUMWATER – Time and time again, football coaches refer their linemen as a band of brothers. For Tumwater, it’s a literal depiction.
There’s Easton and Trevor Hargrave, Tyler and Hunter Burbidge, and Marquez and Jamie Bryant. All have occupied the Thunderbirds’ offensive and defensive lines at various times this season.
For the Bryants, they start on the opposite sides of the line and get the most out of challenging each other every day at practice. Marquez, a 5-foot-9 senior, is a starting offensive guard, while Jamie, a 6-4 sophomore, is a starting defensive tackle.
Facing off in practice has only helped the two improve.
“At first, it was weird,” Marquez said. “He’s big, but we’re trying to make each other better.”
The strength of both lines has been a major contributor to the T-Birds’ success going into tonight’s Class 2A quarterfinal game against Burlington-Edison at 6 p.m. at Tumwater District Stadium.
The Bryants both earned second-team all-Evergreen Conference honors and are the younger brothers of Hank Bryant, a Tumwater graduate who was the EvCo’s MVP in 2007 and went on to play football at Idaho.
For Jamie, this season is his first taste of the speed and expectations as a starting defensive lineman. He has 26 tackles through 10 games, and guys like himself, Easton Hargrave and Demetrius Jones can fill up a defensive stat sheet quickly. They’ve combined for 87 solo tackles but take pleasure setting things up for teammates such as linebackers Brady Grondel and Riley Prentice or Joe Aulabaugh and Kyle Warner in the secondary.
The defense has also forced 11 interceptions and 10 sacks.
“Coach (Rick) McGrath always says you’re job is to get to your gap and stay there,” Jamie Bryant said. “To occupy one or two guys, so the linebackers or defensive backs can do their job, too.”
The offensive line has opened up sizable holes for the running game and provided reliable pass protection: Tumwater is averaging 265.6 yards on the ground and 112.9 passing per game. The line’s work has enabled Warner, the EvCo MVP, and halfback Ronnie Hastie to combine for more than 1,650 yards from scrimmage.
“It’s fun knowing they score, and we’re a part of that,” Marquez Bryant said.
Fatigue could be a factor for Burlington-Edison, which has many players going two ways.
The Tigers (8-3) run a wishbone offense, with Cody Larson, Tyler Tarabochia and Kyle Reijm the go-to players on the ground. In last week’s 44-13 victory over Sequim, the Tigers found success in the passing game, too, with quarterback Dylan Boe completing 7 of 13 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Burlington-Edison dropped its last three regular-season games, including a 21-20 loss to Lynden, before getting playoff victories over Lakewood and Sequim.
“They’re a really tough team,” Jamie Bryant said. “They go 100 percent of the time and won’t back down for anything.”
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com
Burlington-Edison (8-3) vs. Tumwater (9-1)
6 p.m., Tumwater District Stadium
Tumwater passed a big test last week against No. 2 Lynden on the road, prevailing 21-10. The T-Birds jumped to a 21-0 first-half lead, thanks to two TDs by Kyle Warner. Christian Bush led a solid ground game with 155 yards rushing. A victory would send the T-Birds east of the mountains for their first semifinal since facing Lynden in 2006. Tumwater is averaging around 387 yards of offense per game, while limiting opponents to 223 yards.
Burlington-Edison features a wishbone offense that relies heavily on the run. Cody Larson leads the way with close to 900 yards rushing. The Tigers found success in the passing game in last week’s 44-13 victory over Sequim with QB Dylan Boe, who threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 7 of 13 passing. Jammarick Cavitt had four catches for 109 yards.
The pick: Tumwater 34, Burlington-Edison 17