At some point in this high school football postseason, the conversation after the game with Sid Otton, however it runs together with all the other games and sportswriters, will be different: It will be the last.
But not just yet.
Otton has never seen much reason to stray from the script, and the storyline — stifling defense and a share-the-fun offense — was familiar Friday at Tumwater District Stadium. The result was a 44-0 Class 2A district playoff victory over Washougal of the Greater St. Helens League.
Tumwater rang up 387 rushing yards using 13 different ballcarriers, and earned its fourth shutout of the season, limiting the Panthers to negative yards rushing and just 126 total.
“Our defense has really been on top of its game,” said Otton, who will retire after this playoff run ends as the winningest high school football coach in Washington history.
“This is our job, one step at a time, just focus on our job.”
The T-Birds (9-1) advance as the District 3, No. 1 seed to a home game next weekend against Washington, which defeated Fife on Friday.
Washougal finished its season at 5-5.
Senior quarterback Noah Andrews was a weapon with his arm and feet, passing for a touchdown and running for another. He had 160 yards of total offense, split evenly between passing and running.
“He brings a lot to the game,” Otton said of Andrews. “He’s got a strong arm and a quick release — there are other things we can do with him we haven’t done. You have to utilize your playmaker.”
Tumwater’s first scoring drive, after a short Washougal punt, was Otton’s Wing-T attack in a nutshell: four players carried the ball, including Andrews, and it was senior Trayten Rodriguez powered through a huge hole and juking the lone defender in his way on a 28-yard touchdown run.
Next drive, more of the same: Three more ballcarriers gained yards for the T-Birds, and an 18-yard completion from Andrews to junior Jakob Holbrook set up the 14-yard scoring pass to senior tight end Cade Otton.
Tumwater struck quickly in the first minute of the second half on a 57-yard scoring run by 5-foot-5 junior Raushaun Tate.
Mason Burbidge closed the Tumwater scorebook with a 7-yard scoring run.
More than 100 of Otton’s former players lined up two and three deep in the end zone for the national anthem before the game, then came into the locker room afterwards to shake hands with the retiring coach.
“It was pretty emotional, really,” Otton said.