After an inauspicious start to a new era in Tumwater High School football, it took awhile before the Thunderbirds looked like themselves.
Tumwater, playing its first game under head coach Bill Beattie, fell behind 12-0 after the first quarter but thereafter put a Thunderbird signature on a 52-18 victory over Franklin Pierce at Sid Otton Field.
Sophomore Dylan Paine scored four touchdowns and rushed 171 yards on 24 carries to lead a stable of T-Bird running backs (sound familiar?) that gained 412 yards on the ground, and the Tumwater defense blanked the Cardinals in the second half.
“That’s always going to be the formula here,” Beattie said. “Defense always has to come first, then running the ball.”
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The man for whom the playing grounds are named – Sid Otton – was not on the sidelines coaching Tumwater for the first time in 44 years.
It was Beattie’s first win as Tumwater coach, and it marked a career milestone: 200 victories in all, most of them coming at Olympia High School.
“It’s such an honor to be here,” said Beattie, a 1978 graduate of Tumwater. “It’s just fun to be a part of it all again.”
In the first quarter, the Thunderbirds moved the ball sluggishly, put the ball on the ground and took no advantage of Pierce miscues.
The Cardinals struck first after their defense got a fourth-down stop to end a T-Bird drive at the Cardinals’ 23. On the first play after that, the Cardinals’ sophomore quarterback Claudell Quinland found multi-talented senior Alex Bing for a 77-yard touchdown.
It was 12-0 minutes later after Colin Taylor recovered a Tumwater fumble inside the T-Bird 25 and returned it to the 3-yard line. Two plays later, senior Stoney Shafer carried it into the end zone.
In the second quarter, the T-Birds began running the ball effectively and jamming the line of scrimmage on defense. Senior running back Connor Clark broke loose for a 37-yard gainer to the FP 2-yard line, at which point Paine powered in for his first TD of the game.
Tumwater then moved 70 yards in nine plays, the biggest of which was a 37-yard bolt by senior Jakob Holbrook, to set up Paine’s 5-yard TD run.
Franklin Pierce got the last word in the first half on its final play. The resourceful Quinland found Bing on a 2-yard fade route to give the Cardinals an 18-13 halftime lead.
In the second half, a 53-yard sprint by Clark (9 carries, 117 yards) to the Cardinal 2 positioned the ‘Birds for Paine’s 2-yard scoring run.
Clark had a second-half scoring run of 7 yards, junior Zane Murphy (8 carries, 100 yards) scored from 40 yards, and Tumwater got a defensive touchdown on a 30-yard interception return by senior Ethan Wilmovsky. Sophomore Garrett Brown got the game’s final points on a 10-yard scoring run.