TENINO — If there was any doubt before Tenino’s district playoff game against Castle Rock, the second-guesses evaporated quickly.
Tenino racked up 416 total rushing yards and its defense scored twice as the Beavers pummeled visiting Castle Rock, 56-0, in the 1A District 4 playoffs to secure their first state berth since 2013.
“It feels fantastic,” Tenino coach Cary Nagel said. “These guys have put in a bunch of hard work and it’s nice to see the fruits of their labors paying off for them.”
The fifth-ranked Beavers were hoping to make noise for state playoff seeding as the top-8 teams all host first-round matchups.
Tenino certainly looked like a top-8 team in the state as its vaunted rushing attack was vicious.
The Beavers had three ball carriers rush for two touchdowns each, led by senior workhorse Takari Hickle’s 25 carries for 194 yards and two scores.
Dylan Spicer added 14 touches for 104 yards and two TDs, while Gavin Watson carried the rock seven times for 70 yards and two scores. Shawn Nicholson added seven carries for 34 yard and a TD. Hickle and Spicer have both eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing on the season.
“We needed to make a statement tonight,” Nagel said. “All three phases of the game were fantastic tonight. Offense controlled it on the ground and defense was the best I’ve seen them flying around in a long time.”
Tenino’s defense held Castle Rock’s offense in check the entire contest and the Rockets’ never threatened to score.
The Beavers’ defense was highlighted by Brody Noonan’s blocked punt in the third quarter where he fell on the ball to put Tenino up 48-0. On the Rocket’s next drive, the Castle Rock’s quarterback chased a bad snap into the end zone and accidentally put his knee down to cause a safety.
Watson spearheaded the Beavers’ defense with two sacks and a forced fumble, Spicer had five total tackles, two forced and a sack and Hickle added four tackles and two tackles for loss.
It’s been a redemption season so far for a Beavers’ team that finished dead last in the 1A Evergreen League the past two years. Tenino, which is now 9-1 overall, passed their combined win total the past two years (five) in Week 7 this season.
“Our team has come so far in the past few years,” Hickle said. “It’s just crazy to see where we are now. When it comes down to gametime, we really connect as a team. Our team chemistry is A-1 right now. That, in itself, is the most important thing.”
Tenino now awaits the WIAA’s state playoff seeding, set to be announced Sunday, which will determine the Beavers’ first-round opponent and if they get a top-8 seed and will host that first round game on either Nov. 12 or 13.