W.F. West’s borrowed time is reaching rare air.
The No. 2 Bearcats may have been the higher seed at Centralia Tiger Stadium. But after barely eking out a first-round win, and watching No. 10 Sedro-Woolley upset Tumwater, they were ready to throw the rankings out and scrap their way into another dogfight against the Cubs in the 2A state quarterfinals.
Then the game kicked off at Centralia Tiger Stadium on a sunny Saturday afternoon, and W.F. West lived up to its seeding and billing, pummeling its guests early en route to a 31-14 win.
Now, the Bearcats get to extend their season for another week on the “borrowed time” coach Dan Hill loves to talk about. And they’re bound for the 2A semifinals, a place they’ve only been once before, in 2011.
“We just know that this happened in forever in W.F. West history,” W.F. West quarterback Gavin Fugate said. “But this is a great group of guys, and it was a matter of time before we got here.”
Fugate led the way with his arm, throwing for 294 yards on 23-of-33 passing. Just under 200 of those yards came in the first half, when W.F. West blitzed Sedro-Woolley with an early barrage to take control of the game right away.
“I told the coaching staff, the first four possessions, I wanted points,” Hill said. “If we could do that, I really liked our chances.”
After forcing a punt on Sedro-Woolley’s first drive, the Bearcats went 62 yards on 10 plays, before settling for a 28-yard Cody Pennington field goal. After Gage Brumfield recovered a fumble, they quickly got back in the red zone, rolled the dice on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line, and stretched the lead on a Fugate sneak.
Another defensive stop set up another long drive, which ended with another Fugate plunge, and suddenly W.F. West led 17-0, having put out three scoring drives of at least seven plays.
The Bearcats finally made a misstep on their fourth drive, when Fugate launched a deep ball that was intercepted, ending Hills’ hope of four straight scoring possessions to start. To make matters worse, the Cubs finally got their own offense rolling, and cut the lead to 17-8 with 48 seconds left.
With W.F. West set to receive to open the second half, Hill could’ve gone conservative and run out the rest of the clock. He didn’t.
“I was just seeing what they gave us, and they gave us what I wanted,” he said.
Fugate started with a slant route to Brumfield to pick up 17 yards. A 12-yard completion to Ross Kelley set the Bearcats up outside the red zone, and two incompletions later, Fugate escaped a collapsing pocket, rolled left, and lofted a perfect throw to Brumfield, who caught it just inside the back of the end zone.
“That wasn’t a playcall,” Hill said. “That was them being football players. I’m glad I’ve got some really good football players.”
Brumfield finished with a team-high 158 yards on eight receptions. He also hauled in W.F. West’s lone score of the second half, a 21-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that pushed the lead back to three possessions.
All eight of his catches went for at least 10 yards.
Tucker Land, meanwhile, only ran for 41 yards, but also caught eight passes for 77 more. All eight came on swing screens, the bulk of which came at the very beginning of the game, as the Bearcats tried to set the tone, and late as they tried to burn clock.
“It’s an extension of the run game,” Hill said. “It’s about getting our boys the ball in space and being creative with how we do it with alignments and motions.”
Sedro-Woolley managed to rack up 286 total yards of offense, but the Bearcats logged two takeaways and turned the Cubs over on downs four times, getting the ball back to their offense enough to keep things going without anything getting too stressful late this week.
At the end of another week of borrowed time, W.F. West will get a crack at No. 3 North Kitsap, which ground out a 10-7 win over No. 6 Anacortes on Friday. A win would send the Bearcats to the state title game, and guarantee their best postseason finish in program history.
“I’m so happy right now,” Hill said. “Our football team is in it for our community, and it’s just a heck of a thing. We matched the 2011 team, and I don’t care how many times you go to it, being part of the Final Four and still playing football in the semifinals, it’s fun.”