There were some familiar sights for Tumwater High School on Friday night.
Dylan Paine, back from missing half of last season with an ACL tear, carried a dozen times. One of his senior running mates, Hunter Baker, ran for three touchdowns.
The wing-T was up and running.
But some new wrinkles made the Thunderbirds, who failed to win the 2A Evergreen Conference for the first time in nine seasons last year, look even more formidable than usual this time around as they humbled 3A power Timberline, 55-0, at Tumwater District Stadium.
“The system’s been in place for many, many years,” said Tumwater coach Bill Beattie. “The kids do a great job of implementing it. We were a little sloppy at times but we picked it up.”
Tumwater’s defense proved impenetrable for the Blazers. Without expected starting running backs Stanton Hayes and Noah Cunningham, they were held to negative yards rushing and passed for only 46 as three quarterbacks were given a chance to make their case to become Timberline’s starter, replacing All-Area Player of the Year Hunter Campau.
“I was really impressed with the way we swarmed the ball,” Beattie said. “It was a great team effort. Everybody was doing their job which created openings for everybody else.”
On offense, the T-Birds opening things up a bit, taking advantage of senior running back Jaylen Clay’s speed in open space.
Clay broke the scoring ice with a 27-yard first quarter scoring dash and made in 27-0 just before halftime on a 55-yard sprint with a screen pass from quarterback Cody Whalen.
“It all starts with the blockers,” Clay said. “On the screen pass I read our tight end, Austin Terry’s, block and took off.”
Whalen showed he can be more than just the guy who hands off to a typically strong corps of Tumwater running backs. He completed 9-of-11 passes for 180 yards and found Danny Goodburn downfield, wide open behind the entire Timberline defense on the T-Birds first offensive play of the second half.
“We run the ball. It’s the wing-T offense but we want to get to the point where we can do a little bit more with the passing game,” Beattie said. “We feel we have some kids who can do a good job with it.”
Coming off a 10-2 season that ended in the second round of the 3A state tournament, Timberline coach Nick Mullen likely didn’t expect to see the running clock rule enforced against his team in its 2019 opener, but understands the process his rebuilding team has to go through.
“I can fix it, it’s my fault and I’ll take care of it,” the Blazers 11th year coach said. “We’ve got to work on finishing. We were pretty solid in the first quarter, then our defense let some things get by us.”
Timberline trailed just 7-0 after the first period and had the ball as close as the Tumwater 15 late in the quarter but couldn’t tie it.
Next week the Blazers travel to Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner to meet Bonney Lake. By then, Mullen expects to name a starting quarterback.
“The first game is always, especially with s many new starters, but we’ve always made our biggest strides between Week 1 and Week 2,” he said.
Timberline 0 0 0 0 – 0
Tumwater 7 20 21 7 — 55
Tu – Jaylen Clay 27 yard run (Nathan Vani kick)
Tu — Hunter Baker 9 run (Vani kick)
Tu — Baker 5 run (Vani kick)
Tu — Clay 55 pass from Cody Whalen (run failed)
Tu — Danny Goodburn 39 pass from Whalen (Vani kick)
Tu — Baker 22 run (Vani kick)
Tu — Jack Jones 8 run (Vani kick)
Tu — Justin Walter 19 fumble return (Vani kick)
Timberline — Wyatt Gerkin 4-10-14-3, Adam Dafoe 3-8-21-0, Adam Ahlf 1-2-11-0.
Tumwater — Whalen 9-11-180-0.
Timberline — Jaden Gorman 3-(-1), Gerkin 5-(-21), Ethan Keith 4-(-14), Grady Broumley 3-2, Adam Ahlf 1-(-6).
Tumwater — Dylan Paine 12-51, Whalen 1-(-6), Baker 10-75, Clay 7-48, Turner Allen 1-3, Jones 3-25, Tyler Woods 4-27, Jacob Niebauer 1-1, John Judy 1-3.
Timberline — Gorman 1-(-3), Max Aunese 5-28, Tereus Cherry 1-10, Elijah Wiesenfeld 1-11.
Tumwater — Goodburn 4-51, Austin Terry 1-39, Paine 2-7, Clay 1-55.