Bearcats Battle Through Downpour, Blast Beavers for State Bid


Add another check next to the lengthy checklist the W.F. West football team created for itself before the season even started back in August. Friday night on the turf at  Centralia Tiger Stadium, the Bearcats defeated Woodland, 34-7, to punch their second straight ticket to the state playoffs with an impressive 9-1 resume. 

Though the Bearcats have some loftier goals than what they accomplished Friday, especially after a one-and-done run at state a year ago, it felt good to check that next box. 

“I’m just happy for our boys,” Bearcats coach Dan Hill said. “It’s not just tonight, it wasn't just this week, it's been an 11-month ride that these guys have bought into. That's why we’re here doing the things we’re doing. I love my team, they want this so bad. I’m excited that this is coming for them.”

Moving to Centralia to play on the turf of Tiger Stadium, that didn’t stop the rain from forming puddles on the field and creating some pretty grizzly conditions in the win. W.F. West came out with a run-focused offense and moved down the field at will, but two costly fumbles and a penalty that took back a big play kept it close with the Beavers at the half, 14-7. 

The Bearcats rushed for 273 yards as a team Friday night, but had a hard time finishing drives in the first half. 

“We knew we could run the ball and that's what we wanted to establish in the first half, if we don’t put the ball on the ground and execute the way we’re supposed to it's a different game at the half,” Hill said. “Our guys responded, we threw the ball a bit more and took advantage since they loaded the box.”

Quarterback Gavin Fugate got it rolling a bit more in the second half, throwing for 83 yards and hitting timely passes to move the sticks, and also rushing for a team-high 127 yards with a short score. Tucker Land added 90 yards on 15 carries, and Gage Brumfield scored both of the Bearcats first two touchdowns out of the backfield on rushes. 

Brumfield also took a punt return to the house in the third quarter, and Evan Stajduhar added the cherry on top with a short run for a score to end the third. 

Games in conditions like this will only help the Bearcats, who should be in line to play against at Tiger Stadium next week for the first round of state. 

“This was gnarly tonight,” Hill said of the weather. “Being able to come out here and execute, we have a few new packages that we’ve used in the past few weeks and it was good to work on those.”

With a perfect record in league play, and just one blemish on its record against No. 1 Lynden early in the season, W.F. West should be in a good position for strong seeding for the state playoffs, which will be announced Sunday afternoon. 

Either way, the Bearcats success this season has been a direct result of wanting to get back to the same stage it got last year, but make it a bit further. 

“When we lost last year, it didn’t feel like the season was supposed to be over yet,” Hill said. “We were still getting better and we felt like we played better than Prosser and it didn’t work out our way. It's been a motivational thing for us, from Day 1 we came back and it was game on, until this moment right now. These boys are going to be chomping at the bit starting next week.”