All five local 2A Evergreen Conference teams won their openers and two newly hired coaches produced successful debuts.
Here are five takeaways from the first week of high school football in Thurston County and beyond:
Local 2A schools on target
Some things never change: Tumwater is good at football again this year.
A state playoff team as usual in 2018 with a 10-2 record, the Thunderbirds did miss out on the 2A Evergreen Conference championship for the first time since 2009.
Friday night, in a 55-0 home rout of 3A Timberline, Tumwater displayed its usual strong rushing offense, spiced by a more aggressive passing game and a relentless defense.
Meanwhile, four other 2A EvCo teams — Black Hills, Centralia, Rochester and W.F. West — also posted opening night victories. On the other hand, 3A South Sound Conference members Capital, Shelton and Yelm, all seeking to fill holes left by graduated starters, joined Timberline in defeat.
For Tumwater, Dylan Paine, back from missing half of last season with an ACL tear, carried a dozen times, constrained only by T-Bird coach Bill Beattie’s cautious handling of his return. One of his senior running mates, Hunter Baker, ran for three touchdowns.
Some new wrinkles make the Thunderbirds look even more formidable than usual.
“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. With expected starting running backs Stanton Hayes and Noah Cunningham out with minor injuries, 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 expanded their approach 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.
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 for a 39-yard touchdown 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. Despite the harsh defeat, Mullen sees positives in playing the T-Birds, whose wing-T offense employs elements of offenses other team use as building blocks
Next week the Blazers travel to Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner to meet Bonney Lake. By then, Mullen expects to name a starting quarterback. Hayes and Cunningham probably will play.
“The first game is always tough, especially with so many new starters, but we’ve always made our biggest strides between Week 1 and Week 2,” he said.
Defending 2A EvCo champ Black Hills won on the road at Bremerton, 33-29.
“Our perseverance was key. We didn’t let our mistakes and things out of our control get us down,” Wolves coach Kirk Stevens said. “Our offensive and defensive lines anchored us all night.”
Quarterback Ryan Moloney, who saw the field as Black Hills’ backup in 2017, but was used mostly as a defensive back behind Ethan Loveless and Jaden Cote in ‘18, came in for praise from Stevens, as did running back Payton Hoyt.
“Defensively, Zach Loveless and Julian Kennedy stepped up when we needed them most,” said Stevens, whose team next hosts the squad that knocked them out of last season’s state playoffs, Fife. “We need to cut down on penalties, improve our tackling and put what we practice into action.”
On the 3A side, Yelm, another state playoff team with new starters to acclimate to the glare of the Friday night lights, fell to Skyview, 33-13, despite two touchdowns scored by Bradley McGannon and some nice catches and an interception from converted basketball player Auzzie Shuler. Capital fell behind 34-0 to Lakes at Ingersoll and lost 46-21 despite long pick six interception returns by Anthony Hontz and Grady Lindekugel to go with a Tucker Grow rushing touchdown
North Thurston routs West Seattle
As the head coach at Rainier, Terry Shaw led his team to opening night wins all six years. His debut at the helm of North Thurston was no different as the Rams snapped an eight game losing streak with a 43-7 rout of host West Seattle at the Southwest Athletic Complex.
“The guys have bought into the new way of doing things,” Shaw said. “They believe in each other and believe in the coaches.”
Keeton Maggard passed for three touchdowns, two to Zablon Lamp and one to Xavier Barnes, and ran for another score. Jase Marcott return a West Seattle kickoff for a touchdown and Tamar Lee found the end zone after scooping up a blocked punt.
Shaw pointed to the interior of his offensive line, center Amani Tonuao and guards Brigg Hood and Joey Oliver.
“In our triple option offense, these guys moved West Seattle’s defensive line back all night.”
Rochester claims creek trophy
Rochester became one of the five 2A EvCo schools to claim its opener, winning the annual Scatter Creek Showdown with 1A Tenino for the second straight year, 34-20, on the black artificial turf of Beaver Stadium.
Tenino had a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter, only to see Rochester run off 27 unanswered points.
Daniel May, who completed 13 of 22 passes for 188 yards, found Talon Betts for one touchdown and ran for another. Tristen Johnson tallied two rushing scores for the Warriors.
Quarterback Aden Wright was key for Tenino, throwing touchdown passes to Paxton Russell and Abe Nelson while running for another score. Shawn Nicholson gained 87 yards rushing on 15 carries.
Twin Cities squads sweep openers
Rounding out the list of first week 2A winners were W.F. West and Centralia, which won together in Week 1 after a mild drought of such results, going back to 2016.
Centralia gained revenge on Columbia River, which had shut them out, 49-0, last season, with a 48-33 victory. W.F. West went on the road to win another close game against River Ridge, 29-20, at South Sound Stadium after rallying to beat the Hawks by a single point last season.
The Tigers were led by three 100-yard rushers against the Chieftains. Chase Sobolesky-Reynolds led the way with 136 yards while Bradley Hoyt tallied 132 yards and two touchdowns, Blaine Wass 126 yards and two scores.
Quarterback Cameron Erickson completed only one pass, but it was good for a 22-yard touchdown to Benito Valencia.
Meanwhile, in Lacey, the Bearcats used up all but a couple of their nine lives in holding off the Hawks despite seven turnovers and 93 yards in penalties. Jaden Camoza rushed for 209 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
Josiah Johnson threw a touchdown pass to Leandre Gaines and Carter McCoy’s pick six accounted for a defensive TD.
Same early success for Rainier
Shaw’s departure merely left a vacancy for another Rainier coach to record an opening night victory.
Former Bethel assistant Andy Bartell, who lives in Rainier, guided his hometown Mountaineers to a 38-14 win over visiting Raymond in his own debut.
Brody Klein had a touchdown reception and Jacob Uch a 55-yard run as 2B Rainier transitioned from Shaw’s triple option to Bartell’s multiple set approach. Sean Mahaffey ran a recovered fumble back 31 yards for another score.