Tumwater and Prosser have quite a high school football playoff history over the past 25 years. They have a combined 14 state title-game appearances with nine championships, and their playoff history against each other is brief yet noteworthy.
The winner of the three previous Tumwater-Prosser matchups has gone on to win the state title twice.
Top-ranked Tumwater (12-0) will meet Prosser (9-3) at 3 p.m. Saturday in a Class 2A state semifinal game at Pasco’s Edgar
Brown Memorial Stadium. All of the teams’ playoff meetings have been in the Tri-Cities: the 1992 semifinals in Richland and the ’99 quarterfinals and 2012 semifinals in Kennewick. Last year, Tumwater won, 35-21, after trailing at the end of three quarters.
This is the second time longtime Tumwater coach Sid Otton has taken an undefeated Thunderbirds team to face Prosser in the semifinals, but he hopes there’s no repeat of ’92.
That team was 11-0 when it faced an unbeaten, Tom Moore-coached Prosser team with a berth in the AA state title game on the line, but a slow start resulted in a 38-31 loss despite a 415-210 advantage in total offense.
In the third quarter, on second-and-goal at the 3, Tumwater running back Derek Lowe had the ball ripped away by Prosser’s Randy Carter, who ran it back 97 yards for a touchdown to give the Mustangs a 31-10 lead. The late-game comeback orchestrated by Lowe and quarterback Chris Doelman fell a touchdown short.
Otton labels that game as one of the more heartbreaking losses in his 40-year tenure at Tumwater.
“It’s up there,” he said.
Prosser defeated O’Dea at the Kingdome the next week for one of the program’s four state titles.
Prosser’s road to its 12th semifinal appearance since 1991 hasn’t been easy. The Mustangs lost twice in a three-week span in October, but it won a three-team mini-playoff with Othello and West Valley of Yakima on Nov. 11 to make the state round of 16.
First-year starting quarterback Mason Schutt, a 6-foot-5 senior, has been on a tear this postseason. He had five touchdown passes, all to junior wide receiver Cardell Jones, in last week’s 41-22 quarterfinal win over Mark Morris in Vancouver. The week before, Prosser dispatched host Sedro-Woolley, 28-25, in the first round.
The key for Tumwater’s defense starts with its pass rush on Schutt, who has thrown for 36 touchdowns and completed 51 percent of his passes for 2,836 yards (234 per game). But Otton knows it will take the entire 11 on defense to get stops.
“They’ve always been a team that’s very well-coached and spreads it out, and tries to spread your defense,” Otton said. “We certainly have a great deal of respect for them and respect for what our defense has done.”
CLASS 2A STATE SEMIFINAL
No. 1 Tumwater (12-0) vs. Prosser (9-3)
3 p.m. Saturday, Edgar Brown Memorial Stadium, Pasco
Radio: 1240-AM. TV: None.
History: Three previous postseason meetings; last meeting, 2012 (Tumwater won, 35-21, in Class 2A state semifinals in Kennewick). Prosser leads series 2-1, winning in 1992 semifinals (38-31) and 1999 quarterfinals (24-13). Prosser went on to win state titles in ’92 and ’99.
About the Thunderbirds: Defense, defense, defense — that has led Tumwater all season. Not only has the defense scored a school-record 11 touchdowns, but the first-string defense also has allowed just 16 TDs in 12 games. Tumwater’s offense isn’t too bad, either. RB Christian Cummings (1,956 all-purpose yards, 30 TDs) is closing in on the program’s single-season touchdown mark; he needs three to break Kyle Warner’s record of 32, set in 2010. Cummings has scored at least one touchdown in 11 of the team’s 12 games. A win puts the Thunderbirds in the state-title game for the third time in four years and the seventh time in program history. Tumwater has won five championships (1987, 1989, 1990, 1993, 2010).
About the Mustangs: November has been full of “Mustang Magic” in Prosser. The Mustangs won a three-team mini-playoff over Othello and West Valley of Yakima after suffering two losses in a three-week span in October. First-year QB Mason Schutt (2,836 yards, 36 TDs) is big — 6-foot-5 — and has elevated his game this postseason. His favorite target was junior Cardell Jones (47 catches, 1,117 yards, 17 TDs) in last week’s 41-22 win over Mark Morris in Vancouver. This is Prosser’s 12th state semifinal appearance since 1991.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com @MegWochnick firstname.lastname@example.org