Sid Otton has one more Pioneer Bowl win to add to his long list.
He has walked the sideline at Tumwater District Stadium for all 18 renditions of the annual rivalry game between Tumwater and Black Hills, and, after Friday night’s 31-6 win, he has collected the trophy 15 times.
It will also be the last time.
Otton, who has coached at Tumwater High School for 43 years, will retire this season as the winningest coach in Washington state history.
Otton stood in the background as the T-Birds sang to a cheering crowd, and he smiled.
“It feels pretty dang good,” he said.
This is the seventh consecutive season Tumwater — which hasn’t lost a Class 2A Evergreen Conference game since Black Hills last won the Pioneer Bowl in 2009 — has won the annual rivalry game.
“He’s earned it and they earned it out on the field,” Black Hills coach Kirk Stevens said. “We would have loved to play spoiler, but that wasn’t in the cards tonight.”
Tumwater (7-1, 3-0 2A EvCo) now leads the all-time series, 15-3, and will travel to W.F. West (8-0, 4-0) next Friday in pursuit of a seventh straight league title.
“It’s a great win,” Tumwater lineman Lazarus Williams said. “We pick each other up. We just really wanted it for (Coach Otton) because it was his last year. For our seniors, it’s senior night. It’s a great feeling.”
Tumwater barely held a lead, 7-6, at halftime, before reeling off two touchdowns to open the third quarter, and added a pair of fourth-quarter scores to seal it. The T-Birds held the Wolves scoreless in the second half.
“(Black Hills) came in, they caused us a few problems, but I thought the whole story of the game was our defense,” Otton said. “They played outstanding.”
Tumwater’s defense — which sacked Black Hills quarterback Christian Williams seven times — was poised, limiting the Wolves to 51 yards of total offense.
“We got some of our injured players back, and we just have great chemistry because we’ve been playing (together) for a while,” said Lazarus Williams, who twice had a hand in stopping Chrisitan Williams in the backfield. “We really got it going.”
Black Hills was averaging 34.2 points per game entering Friday, but only managed to score once.
Sam Carson recovered a fumble in the second quarter — two penalties stalled a Tumwater drive before quarterback Noah Andrews was sacked for a 12-yard loss and stripped of the ball — to set the Wolves up at Tumwater’s 23-yard line.
Following several short gains, Jaden Toussaint dove into the end zone from 1 yard out with seven minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the half. Tumwater blocked the kick to keep a 7-6 lead.
Black Hills entered Tumwater territory only one other time during the game. Kyler Nygren returned a kick 32 yards, and Christian Williams scampered for another 10 yards to set the Wolves up on the T-Birds’ 48.
A pair of penalties by Tumwater tacked on more yards to give Black Hills a first-and-10 at the 19. But Christian Williams was sacked twice — for losses of 9 and 10 yards — during the next series and the Wolves turned the ball over on downs.
“It’s tough,” Stevens said. “The (offensive) line did what they could, they were blocking, but (Tumwater) was bringing more guys than we could handle, and those are tough nights for quarterbacks.”
Tumwater scored on the game’s opening possession, to put up a 7-0 lead it didn’t lose.
A pair of lengthy gains from Rico Spiegner (21 yards) and Zane Murphy (38) set the T-Birds up at the 4-yard line. Following two failed rushing attempts, Noah Andrews dropped back and hurled the ball to Cade Otton in traffic, for a 6-yard score.
Black Hills held Tumwater scoreless for the rest of the half — including stopping Andrews short of the goal line just before the break.
With less than two minutes remaining, Tumwater drove 64 yards on five consecutive passes by Andrews, to the Wolves’ 5. Andrews spiked the ball twice during the series to conserve time, but was held up on fourth-and-4 trying to dash into the corner of the end zone.
Black Hills took a knee on the 1-yard line to end the half, but early mistakes in the third quarter led to two quick Tumwater scores.
On the first possession of the second half, Williams bobbled an errant snap, and fumbled. Tolo Hafoka picked it up and set the T-Birds up at the 4-yard line. Two plays later, Trayten Rodriguez cut inside for a 6-yard touchdown.
A fake punt attempt on the ensuing drive led to another Rodriguez touchdown run, for 13 yards this time, three minutes later.
“We had to start being more aggressive, which plays right into their hand,” Stevens said. “That was the game plan, to avoid those situations, but once they got those two scores right at the start of the second half, that put us back in the situation we didn’t want to be in.”
Tumwater continued to stack up points from there. Nathan Seaman connected for a 31-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, and Rodriguez added his third touchdown of the night on a 2-yard scamper to seal it with 3:25 to go.
Rodriguez led the T-Birds with three touchdowns on 13 carries for 74 yards.
Black Hills turned the ball over on downs five times during the second half — three of which led to Tumwater scoring drives.
“Really, our defense was outstanding,” Sid Otton said. “That’s going to be the key for us on what we’re going to do with that tough one coming up next week.”
NO. 2 TUMWATER
T – Cade Otton 6 pass from Noah Andrews (Nathan Seaman kick)
BH – Jaden Toussaint 1 run (kick failed)
T – Trayten Rodriguez 6 run (Seaman kick)
T – Rodriguez 13 run (Seaman kick)
T – Seaman 31 FG
T – Rodriguez 2 run (Seaman kick)