TUMWATER — Many football coaches would trade just about anything for even one undefeated regular season.
Tumwater’s Sid Otton now has 13 of them on his résumé. A baker’s dozen to go with five state titles — a figure that could become six at season’s end given just how well Otton’s squad has been performing.
The Thunderbirds were their usual disruptive selves on defense in a 56-22 Evergreen Conference 2A victory over crosstown rival Black Hills in the annual Pioneer Bowl at Tumwater District Stadium on Friday.
Christian Cummings ran for three touchdowns, Jayden Croft tossed a 15-yard TD pass to Griffin Shea and Tumwater improved its record to a perfect 9-0, including a 5-0 mark in Evergreen Conference play, for its first unblemished record since 2007.
In fact, Tumwater’s last conference defeat was a 19-7 loss to the Wolves in 2009. The T-Birds have since won four in a row in the city series.
Black Hills, which was eliminated from postseason contention earlier in the season, fell to 4-5 overall and 2-4 in conference games.
Tumwater’s defense set the tone early, getting an interception from Logan Schiendelman on the Wolves’ first series.
Cummings, who finished with 109 yards on 14 carries, put the T-Birds on the scoreboard the very next play, scampering 22 yards for a score.
“The coaches tell us before every game to visualize scoring on the first play of the game,” Cummings said. “The line opened everything up for me and I was able to bust it open. It all starts with our defense though. They create so much for our offense. I’m glad I don’t have to play against that defense.”
The senior running back also added two short rushing TDs, helping Tumwater race out to a commanding 42-6 lead at halftime.
Tumwater’s defense forced three turnovers, had four sacks and got a 4-yard fumble return for a score from Garrett Terrell in the first half en route to the T-Birds’ 42-6 lead at the halftime intermission.
The Wolves answered Tumwater’s first touchdown on Jayden Troy’s 11-yard scoring strike to Gabe Adamson 2ß minutes into the first quarter which pulled Black Hills within a point at 7-6.
The play was set up by Troy’s 74-yard pass to Mitch Stone.
But it was all Tumwater from there as the Thunderbirds, who also had a 1-yard TD run by Nick Foerstel in the first half, scored the game’s next 35 points.
Black Hills got a 24-yard field goal from Luke Taylor in the third quarter and two rushing scores (8 and 21 yards) from Cooper Nygren in the fourth quarter.
Tumwater, state champion in 2010 and runner-up in 2012 at the 2A classification, will host the third-place team out of the 2A Greater Saint Helens League in a state preliminary round playoff next week with the winner advancing to the round of 16.
The Thunderbirds’ first undefeated regular season came in 1986, which kicked off Tumwater’s remarkable run over the last quarter century.
The team posted undefeated regular seasons eight times between 1986 and 1996 — a year before Black Hills opened splitting Tumwater High School’s population in half.
Additional undefeated regular seasons for the T-Birds occurred in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Timberline 41, at Shelton 0: The 3A Narrows League champion Blazers earned the No. 1 seed into the Week 10 district playoffs next week and host Meadowdale after racking up a season-high 539 yards of total offense, including 415 on the ground, racing out to a 27-0 halftime lead.
Junior Andrew Paquin had a game-high 174 yards on 11 carries and scored three touchdowns, and quarterback Gabe Gutierrez was 6-for-16 passing for 124 yards and a touchdown.
“I’m so proud of this group,” Timberline coach Nick Mullen said. “This was our hardest challenge for the league title.”
Staff writer Meg Wochnick contributed to this report.