A gracious son, Tim Otton, handed his father, Sid, a Snickers bar on Saturday afternoon.
The gesture was welcomed by the Tumwater High School football coach, who had just sweated out a come-from-behind 24-21 win over fourth-ranked Archbishop Murphy in a Class 2A state semifinal at the Tacoma Dome.
“That was probably better than a treadmill test,” Sid Otton said.
Still recovering from the adrenaline rush, the coach had three other words to offer.
“I’m still here.”
And so are the top-ranked T-Birds — but just barely.
Tumwater trailed for more than 33 minutes after Bailey Singh-Halpin gave the Wildcats a 7-0 lead on a 32-yard pass from Connor Johnson with 10 minutes, 36 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The number of minutes that Tumwater had trailed in its prior 12 games this season?
“We’ve been there now,” Sid Otton said. “We haven’t been there before, and we have now.”
A gracious grandson, Cade Otton, forced a fumble with 1:42 to play. The turnover led to the winning touchdown — a 10-yard reception by Noah Andrews on a pass from Spencer Dowers — 27 seconds later.
“We just had to stay the course until it got better,” Sid Otton said.
For a Tumwater team that averages 47 points per game — and 29 points per game in the first half — the course wasn’t smooth.
The Wildcats scored their first two touchdowns within three minutes of each other in the second quarter to make it 14-0. Both drives were a result of Tumwater turnovers.
The Wildcats outgained the T-Birds, 219-162, in the first half, and added a third touchdown as time expired in the half to take a 21-7 lead.
“They punched us in the mouth early, and we had to respond to that,” Sid Otton said.
It was the first time this season that the T-Birds have entered halftime with fewer than 13 points.
“It was difficult,” Andrews said. “We just came in (to the locker room) and everyone was talking. And (senior center) Tommy Brassfield came up and said, ‘Let’s just not talk. Let’s do.’ ”
The plan worked on the opening drive of the second half. Cade Otton caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Dowers to cut the T-Birds’ deficit to seven.
But even after a 29-yard field goal by Nathan Seaman that made it 21-17, the T-Birds looked all but finished in the fourth quarter.
“I think every team maybe starts to get in there, and you just try to kick it out real quick,” Sid Otton said.
Tumwater drove to Archbishop Murphy’s 4-yard line with 3:28 to play. But Dowers’ incomplete pass to Jarid Barrett on fourth-and-2 seemed to be the end of the road for the T-Birds, until Cade Otton forced the fumble on the ensuing Wildcats’ possession.
Sid Otton said the close call was a welcome one, and gives the T-Birds more momentum heading into next week’s 2A title game against sixth-ranked Prosser (12-1).
“I’m just really impressed with how we kept battling, kept shoveling,” he said. “It’s a big part of our program and they showed that today.”