There wasn’t much room to run Saturday afternoon in the Class 2A state title game at the Tacoma Dome.
Tumwater High School struggled to move the ball on several drives, eventually dropping a 35-22 loss to Hockinson.
But when space could be found, Tumwater sophomore Dylan Paine capitalized on the opportunity.
Capping a stellar season in his first year playing varsity, Paine rushed for a game-high 105 yards on 22 carries, and brought his season total to 1,803 yards on 312 carries and 24 touchdowns.
“It’s great that he’s a sophomore — he’s back (next year),” Tumwater coach Bill Beattie said. “He had a fantastic year.”
Paine came close to the program’s single-season record for rushing yards. Zach Johnson, who later played for Eastern Washington University as a linebacker, still holds the record with his 1,918 yards in 2006.
But Paine made a significant dent in his first season, proving to be a vital piece of Tumwater’s run-based offense, and is already approaching the halfway point to the program’s career rushing mark.
In the next two seasons, Paine could very well contend for Tumwater’s career rushing record (4,303 yards), set by Derek Lowe between 1991-93.
“GATA did a good job of putting ROTA on the field, and my offensive line blocked great for me,” Paine said of his first season. “I kind of got the perfect situation.”
Paine, 5-foot-9, 145 pounds, averaged 128.8 yards per game as Tumwater’s trusted fullback.
He was key for the T-Birds several times during the postseason in picking up crucial first downs, and used a combination of speed and deceptive power to give defenses fits.
Paine said he hopes to return to the Tacoma Dome twice more during his career — ideally with a different outcome.
“I’m going to get bigger, faster, stronger — we all are,” Paine said. “We want to come back and play again in the state championship.”
Tumwater kicker Nathan Seaman connected on a career-long 45-yard field goal to give Tumwater a 10-0 advantage less than five minutes into the first quarter.
Seaman connected for eight field goals during the state playoffs, including three apiece in the first round and quarterfinals, and one each in the semifinals and title game. He finished with 12 field goals this season, breaking Tumwater’s single-season record set by Elijah Hill in 2013.
Seaman, a senior, also broke Hill’s record for career field goals with 19. Hill had 13 between 2011-14. Seaman finished his three-year career with 169 PATs, just short of Hill’s career record (185).
Tumwater punter Ty Gilliland set a Gridiron Classic record for the 2A title game early in the third quarter.
From inside his own 20-yard line, the 6-3, 215-pound sophomore booted a 64-yard punt that bounced to Hockinson’s 18.
Gilliland’s kick beat a record that was two decades old, set by Elma’s Kyle Basler (63 yards) in 1997. The Eagles beat Pullman, 37-34, that season under coach Jim Hill for the program’s first state title win.