TUMWATER — Missing three games because of an injury was tougher on Daniel Dickason than the hits he takes in practices and games each week.
“It’s never fun sitting out,” the Tumwater High School junior defensive lineman said.
Never before had Dickason had a significant injury that kept him out for a lengthy period of time until he sprained his left knee during practice in September. The injury caused him to miss games against Timberline, Inglemoor and Capital.
Tests showed no ligament damage, but his patience while resting and rehabbing was tested, too. He tried to make the best of it, and came to appreciate the encouragement that comes from the sideline.
“It gave me that drive to not only do well for myself,” he said, “but do well for my team. It helps
that I have guys out there to motivate me.”
Dickason is healthy now and has been a key contributor to top-ranked Tumwater’s defense entering Saturday’s Class 2A state quarterfinal game against White River (8-3) at 4 p.m. at Orting Stadium.
A win sends the Thunderbirds (11-0) to the state semifinals for the second consecutive year and the third time since 2010.
Defensive line coach Rick McGrath utilizes Dickason in different ways for a defense that allows just 14.9 points a game. Dickason’s intelligence and athleticism allow him to rotate between tackle, end and nose guard.
“You can put him on top of a building, and he’ll jump off for you,” McGrath said. “He’s a hard-working kid and gives you everything he has.”
Since Oct. 18 — a span of five games — Dickason has racked up 10 tackles for loss, four sacks and 43 total tackles.
Statistics and individual honors aren’t important to Dickason, who earned second-team all-2A Evergreen Conference honors. He’s about the team first, last and always.
“I feel that if I haven’t done my best, I haven’t succeeded,” he said.
White River, behind workhorse senior running back Keenan Fagan, will be a challenge.
Fagan had 231 yards on 22 carries in last week’s 27-14 state first-round win over Orting. The SPSL 2A Hornets ended the regular season with consecutive losses to Steilacoom and Sumner, but they outscored playoff opponents North Mason and Orting by a combined 51-28 to reach Saturday’s quarterfinal.
“They’re good,” Dickason said. “They wouldn’t have made it to the quarterfinals if they weren’t. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Class 2A state quarterfinals
Tumwater (11-0) vs. White River (8-3)
4 p.m. Saturday, Orting Stadium
Tumwater stat worthy: RB Christian Cummings, sr., 1,556 yards rushing, 25 TDs; LB Addison Barrett, jr., 113 tackles (11 tackles for loss), 3 sacks; DE Nick Foerstel, sr., 7 sacks.
White River stat worthy: RB Keenan Fagan, sr., 1,431 yards rushing, 23 TDs (20 rushing).
Last meeting: 2002 (3A first-round game). Tumwater won, 13-7.
The lowdown: Standing in the Thunderbirds’ way of their third state semifinal appearance since 2010 is a run-based White River team spearheaded by Fagan, who also led the SPSL 2A in tackles. In the past two games, Fagan has run for 414 yards on 50 carries and scored five touchdowns. This is the eighth Tumwater team to be undefeated entering the state quarterfinals, joining the 1986, ’88, ’89, ’90, ’92, ’96 and ’02 teams. Tumwater continues to be led by its defense, which two weeks ago set a single-season school record for points (66) after interception returns for touchdowns by Foerstel and Gabe Gleizes. The defense has registered 36 sacks and 60 tackles for loss. Foerstel and LB Trevor Davis lead the Thunderbirds with seven sacks apiece. Cummings, the 2A Evergreen Conference MVP, has scored touchdowns in 10 games.theolympian.com/