It’s a chocolatey treat all members of the Tumwater High defense get pumped up for – a home-baked square of goodness known as Mrs. A’s brownies.
The Thunderbirds had a record-setting season for points scored by the defense and special teams – 58 and counting – as Tumwater prepares for Saturday’s Class 2A state title football game against Lynden in the Tacoma Dome. The 58 points surpassed the previous mark of 56 points set in 1989. That year, Tumwater went 13-0 and defeated Cheney, 27-7, for the 2A state title.
Brownie treats – once in a while topped with ice cream – are the reward each time the defense or special teams score. The brownie tradition was born last season after the defense scored twice – on an interception return for a touchdown and a safety – in a 57-7 win over Yelm in Week 2. Since then, Mrs. A – Rebecca Alexander, wife of longtime Tumwater defensive coordinator Pat Alexander – bakes a tray of brownies for the players who are on the field during a defensive or special-teams score.
The Alexanders’ oven has been busy this season; the defense or special teams have scored points in seven of the 13 games. The points record was broken in a 21-0 win over Archbishop Murphy in the 2A state quarterfinals when Nick Foerstel forced a fumble that was picked up junior Koyre Trejo for his first career touchdown.
“It’s strange what motivates 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds,” Pat Alexander said. “When they score, even before they’re off the field, they’re making sure they’re getting brownies.”
Of course, the treats have won over all the players.
“They’re pretty darn good,” said Trejo, Tumwater’s all-league defensive end. “It’s definitely a good incentive.”
Pat Alexander described the group as “ordinary players who somehow play extraordinary.” Game after game, week after week, the unseasoned and inexperienced players rose to the occasion and surpassed expectations. Since its 42-21 loss to Shelton in the opening week, Tumwater has won 12 straight games and has outscored its opponents 256-69 over the last seven. Now, the T-Birds are playing for their second state title in three seasons and sixth overall. The program is 5-0 in previous state title games, including a 34-14 win over Archbishop Murphy in 2010.
“Each week, they get better and more physical,” Pat Alexander said.
LYNDEN CONNECTION FOR TUMWATER QB
Jayden Croft has few memories of the four years he lived as a young child in Lynden, a town of 12,000 located five miles from the U.S.-Canada border. But one that does stick out is its resemblance of the town where lives in now.
“I remember it being a cool community,” he said.
And now, in Saturday’s 2A title game, he’s facing the team he might’ve played for had his family stayed in Lynden.
“It’s crazy to think about it,” Croft said.
Croft, Tumwater’s junior starting quarterback, was born in Bellingham and lived in Lynden until age 4. He and his family moved to Tumwater when his mother, Tana, got a teaching job at Tumwater High School.
Croft is a well-known last name in Lynden. Jayden Croft’s father, Derric Croft, was one of the top basketball players to ever come out of Whatcom County.
A 1991 graduate of Lynden High, Derric Croft was part of the state’s star-studded senior basketball class that included Newport’s Mark Pope (Kentucky), Kent-Meridian’s K.J. Roberts (Cal), and Mercer Island’s Scott Didrickson (Washington). Croft averaged 25 points, six rebounds and five assists a game, leading the Lions to the Class A title in March 1991. He still holds the Lynden record for most points scored in a season (652).
Last year, Jayden Croft traveled to Lynden with his father, toured the town and the high school. He was in awe of what he saw, including a wall painting inside the boys’ locker room of his father dunking.
“It was really cool,” Jayden Croft said. “I love seeing all of his old articles in the paper.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Lynden, the defending 2A state champion, holds an 8-1 record against 2A Evergreen Conference teams since 2006, including a 48-21 win over Capital last Friday in a 2A semifinal. Its only loss? To Tumwater in 2010. That year, the Thunderbirds defeated Lynden, 21-10, in Bellingham in the first round of the 2A state playoffs on their way to winning the 2A title. Two programs have combined to win 11 state titles – six for Lynden (1980, ’91, ’06, ’08, ’09, ’11) and five for Tumwater (1987, ’89-90, ’93, ’10).Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports @megwochnick