Three generations of Ottons patrol the sideline at every Tumwater High School football game.
The grandfather, Sid Otton, has been there since 1974 — and is Washington’s winningest high school coach with an all-time record of 384-128. The son, Tim Otton, is a former T-Birds player who graduated in 1986 and is now the defensive line coach.
And the grandson, Cade, a junior, is a standout on the field.
Last week, in undefeated Tumwater’s nail-biter victory over Archbishop Murphy, 24-21, in a Class 2A semifinal, Cade forced the fumble, with one minute, 42 seconds left, that led to the T-Birds’ winning drive.
“We had a blitz called on that play,” Cade said. “The defensive line did a great job of making the opening. I got hit and I didn’t really see the ball or anything.
“It’s all a blur. I really don’t know what happened until the ball came out and everyone was cheering.”
With father and grandfather watching anxiously from the sideline.
The T-Birds trailed in the game — for the first time this season — until Noah Andrews scooted into the end zone with 1:15 left to play.
Tumwater plays at the Tacoma Dome at 10 a.m. Saturday in its eighth appearance in a state championship game.
“Not many people or teams get the opportunity to be in a state championship, so hopefully we can take it home,” Cade said.
It would a first time for him — and his father.
Cade suited up as a freshman in Tumwater’s most recent trip to the title game in 2013, when it lost to Lynden, 38-28.
Tim never played in a state championship game.
“They started all that good stuff right after I left,” Tim said.
Tumwater won its first state championship in 1987. And it won four of its five titles in a span of seven years (1987, 1989, 1990, 1993). The T-Birds most recently won a title in 2010, with a 34-14 win over Archbishop Murphy.
Cade has played a larger role in the 2015 run than he did as a freshman long snapper. He leads the T-Birds in receiving with 23 catches for 477 yards and nine touchdowns.
He also has been a force at linebacker, recording a team-leading 122 tackles — 47 more than the second-leading tackler.
And he lets his statistics speak for him.
“I’m not the most vocal guy,” Cade said. “I just want to keep my head down and work hard.”
Which is characteristic of the Otton family.
“My dad, my aunt, my cousins and my sister — they’ve all been great leaders on their athletic teams and the classroom,” Cade said. “So I think that’s just one thing I want to carry on from them.”
The football prowess is another. Sid, Tim and Cade’s uncle, Brad — who later transferred to USC — played at Weber State in Utah. Brad as a defensive end, Sid as an offensive tackle.
Sid also had a brief tryout as an offensive and defensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys.
Where he plays on the field is one of the few ways Cade differs — both he and his father were named defensive players of the year in their leagues. Tim in 1985, Cade this season as the 2A EvCo’s MVP.
“He got the 6-5 height,” Tim said. “He’s got great hands and great height and has a really good instinct at linebacker. I was a defensive end type of guy.”
Cade recognizes the unique circumstance of having his father and grandfather on the sideline.
“I’m really comfortable with them, obviously — I’ve known them all my life,” Cade said. “They’re really fair, though. They treat me just like they’d treat any player.”
Though, he said, the presence of his father and grandfather adds a bit of extra motivation headed into Saturday’s finale.
“I definitely want to make them proud,” Cade said. “I always want to make my family proud. And they’re my coaches, too, so it’s double what I wanted to do.”
Class 2A state final
No. 5 Prosser (12-1) vs. No. 1 Tumwater (13-0)
10 a.m. Saturday, Tacoma Dome
Coaches: Corey Ingvalson is in his first season at Prosser (12-1 record). Sid Otton is in his 42nd season at Tumwater (351-109 record).
Road to Gridiron Classic: Prosser beat Clarkston in the first round (14-0), Ellensburg in the quarterfinals (31-0) and Sedro-Woolley in the semifinals (33-21). Tumwater beat Franklin Pierce in the first round (55-14), Squalicum in the quarterfinals (38-21) and Archbishop Murphy in the semifinals (24-21).
About the Mustangs: Four-time state champion Prosser is back in the 2A title game for the first time since 2008. And, yes, the Mustangs will air it out behind QB Tanner Bolt (198 of 314, 3,008 yards, 40 TDs), who has an array of receiving weapons to feed the football to. What gets overlooked is the defense, which has posted six shutouts. That is one short of the school record (seven), set in 1994.
About the Thunderbirds: Top-ranked Tumwater trailed for the first time all season in its 24-21 semifinal win over Archbishop Murphy. RB Jarid Barrett (166 rushes, 1,007 yards, 18 TDs) leads a Wing-T rushing attack that averages 315.5 yards per game. DL Devon Shedd-Kirkland (seven sacks) and LB Cade Otton (122 tackles, 12 tackles for loss) could help the secondary by bringing timely pressure on Bolt.
The pick: Tumwater, 30-27.