TUMWATER — Listed at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Easton Trakel doesn’t wow you with his size and stature, but that doesn’t mean the recently turned 16-year-old hasn’t produced jaw-dropping moments for Tumwater High School.
The sophomore has no superpowers, mind you, but he has racked up acrobatic catches against bigger cornerbacks and safeties. Even better, he saves these highlight-reel, Twitter buzz-worthy efforts for crunch time, says offensive coordinator Jamie Weeks.
“He’s not one of those kids that sticks out at practice, per se, all the time,” Weeks said, “but when it comes to game time, he steps it up a notch. He sparks the team.”
Trakel, a wingback in Tumwater’s prolific Wing-T offense, has 1,520 all-purpose yards (623 receiving, 565 rushing, 523 in kickoff returns) and nine touchdowns in 13 games, second to running back Christian Cummings’ 2,038 all-purpose yards, going into Saturday’s 10 a.m. Class 2A football state championship game against Lynden (13-0) at the Tacoma Dome.
That “notch” Weeks refers to has been pushed higher this postseason. In three state playoff games, he has 206 yards rushing and 216 yards receiving, including five catches for 139 yards in a 45-7 quarterfinal win over White River after the Thunderbirds (13-0) trailed 7-0 early.
His speed, more than strength, does most of the
“You can’t overpower everybody,” Trakel said, “but I try to make it so they can’t catch me.”
Saturday is No.1-ranked Tumwater’s seventh state championship game in school history, all since 1987. The T-Birds are 5-1 in state final games.
Many of those teams had an impact sophomore: Scott Gurnsey earned all-state honors as a sophomore safety on Tumwater’s first state title team in 1987; halfback Anthony Hicks, starting alongside Derek Lowe, set an all-time rushing record in 1993; and tackle Jaimie Bryant’s memorable performance in the 2010 state title game against Archbishop Murphy caught the attention of then-Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff.
During last Saturday’s semifinal win over Prosser, Trakel was called on for some trickery – a halfback pass to fellow sophomore Griffin Shea. It was Trakel’s first attempt and completion this season.
The play occurred after Tumwater, leading 24-12, recovered a fumble. Trakel converted that mistake into points on the next play with a 22-yard pass, Shea’s third touchdown of the half. It gave the T-Birds’ a 31-12 lead in a game they would eventually win, 45-40.
Tumwater’s sturdy defense has been notable all season, but its offense is dynamic as well, averaging 402 total yards a game. Trakel leads the T-Birds in receiving yards, is third in rushing and was one of three players with 80 or more rushing yards in the semifinal win over Prosser.
“The thing about it (is) you can’t key on one guy and think you’re going to stop our offense because we’re so deep,” Trakel said.
This will be Trakel’s third appearance in a state title game over a year’s span. He was primarily a junior-varsity player last season when Tumwater made a run before losing 41-7 to Lynden in the title game and he played some on special teams. And he was a pinch runner on the Tumwater baseball team that finished second in state last May.
“I want to get a win out of this one,” Trakel said.
At THE Tacoma Dome
Class 1B: No. 1 Neah Bay (11-0) vs. No. 2 Touchet (12-1), 4 p.m.
Class 3A: No. 1 Bellevue (13-0) vs. No. 6 Eastside Catholic (11-2), 7:30 p.m.
Class 2A: No. 1 Tumwater (13-0) vs. No. 2 Lynden (13-0), 10 a.m.
Class 1A: No. 3 Freeman (13-0) vs. No. 4 Mount Baker (12-1), 1 p.m.
Class 2B: No. 1 Morton-White Pass (13-0) vs. No. 2 Lind-Ritzville/Sprague (13-0), 4 p.m.
Class 4A: No. 1 Camas (13-0) vs. No. 4 Chiawana (12-1), 7:30 p.m.
Tumwater has had multiple sophomore impact players on its six teams that played for the state football title and won five of them. Here’s a look at some of the notable sophomores:
Scott Gurnsey, defensive back
All-state safety on T-Birds’ first state title team, and a big contributor at receiver on offense. It wasn’t the last all-state honor, or state title, Gurnsey would win, either. He was a two-way starter on Tumwater’s ’89 title team, too, before starring at Montana.
Keith Clark, defensive back
Starting cornerback as Tumwater defeated Cheney, 27-7. Was team’s only returning defensive starter when it won the title again in 1990 – the program’s third in four years.
Chris Doelman, quarterback
Replaced the graduated Brad Otton under center, and led T-Birds to second straight undefeated season, capped off with three TD passes in a 32-17 win over Mount Rainier in the title game.
Anthony Hicks, running back
Earned starting nod in the backfield alongside Derek Lowe, who rushed for almost 2,000 yards, as Tumwater defeated Inglemoor in the Class 3A title game. Signed with UW, then finished career at PLU helping Lutes capture 1999 NCAA Division III national championship.
Jaimie Bryant, defensive line
Starting nose guard turned heads in Tumwater’s 34-14 win over Archbishop Murphy in the title game, particularly that of then-UW head coach Steve Sarkisian. Bryant later committed to the Huskies.
Tyrus Snow, halfback
Trevor Davis, linebacker
Quite the sophomore tandem, both earned second-team all-2A Evergreen Conference honors a season ago. Snow amassed 522 yards from scrimmage while Davis was eighth in tackles at 56.5. Little has changed since; Davis has started all 13 games in 2013, while Snow has started 11.
Easton Trakel, wingback
Griffin Shea, wide receiver
Trakel is a handful in all three phases – rushing, receiving and returning kickoffs – with 1,520 all-purpose yards and nine touchdowns. Shea, meanwhile, has emerged as a deep threat this postseason. Four of his six TD catches have come in the past two games.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/ southsoundsports @megwochnick email@example.com