SEATTLE — The Thunderbirds couldn’t have scripted a better start.
On the opening play of the 2A state championship game, Peyton Davis took a handoff 32 yards, and five plays later, Cash Short took a fourth-down reverse 26 yards to put Tumwater on the board first against Anacortes.
What began as a dream quickly descended into a nightmare, as 22 minutes later, the T-Birds entered the locker room at halftime down 28.
“They beat us tonight,” Tumwater coach William Garrow said. “There’s no two ways about it.”
The Thunderbirds played better offensively in the second half, but they weren’t able to keep pace with the high-flying Seahawks, who dropped a 60-burger and doubled up Tumwater in a 60-30 victory.
Anacortes had its way offensively throughout the entire game, totalling 552 total yards and scoring a touchdown on eight of their nine drives.
Rex Larson completed 26 of his 34 passes for 346 yards and four touchdowns, consistently delivering the ball with excellent accuracy, even in the face of constant Tumwater pressure.
“I thought we got to the quarterback and we did everything we could to disrupt things,” Garrow said. “Even with guys in his face and pressure, he threw balls that were catchable.”
Larson rarely found a wide-open receiver, yet a star-studded supporting cast made several tough catches with defenders nearby, catches that left everybody on the Tumwater sideline shaking their heads.
“Our kids were in position to defend a vast majority of those balls, and they just caught them,” Garrow said. “I mean, holy smokes. Tip your cap to those guys … those kids made plays. We needed a couple of those to come down the other way, and we didn’t get them to come down on our side this week.”
Rylin Lang consistently won downfield, logging 143 yards and two scores on five catches, while Landon Schafer added 78 yards and a score on six receptions.
The Seahawks also imposed their will on the ground, rushing for 206 yards. Brock Beaner ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries, while Brady Beaner added 82 yards and a score on nine. As a team, the Seahawks ran for 5.72 yards per carry.
After its opening drive, the Tumwater offense managed just 73 yards and one first down on their next five drives before the break.
In the second half, they had more success, scoring on their first three drives to remain within striking distance.
After recovering a squib kick to open the second half, Cash Short punched in a 2-yard score to give the Tumwater sideline a jolt. Later in the quarter, Peyton Davis ran it in from 18 yards out, and on the final play of the third, Ethan Kastner hit Brady Bryant on a post route for a 35-yard touchdown.
“Just really proud of the way they played in the second half,” Garrow said. “We talk about never giving up as a program, and I thought the kids came out and really played hard in the second half … We just executed what we do at a little bit better ratio.”
The Thunderbirds finished with 184 yards on the ground, led by Peyton Davis, who rushed for 63 on nine carries. Jaylin Nixon, Cash Short and Logan Cole all averaged more than 10 yards per carry, though none of the trio carried the ball more than four times.
After Kastner started 3 for 8 in the first half, he finished 8 for 19 with 99 yards and a touchdown. Bryant was the lone Thunderbird to finish with 10 or more receiving yards, racking up 78 on five catches.
While the offense found its groove, the defense continued to struggle, and the Thunderbirds couldn’t overcome an accumulating amount of errors.
Early in the second quarter, down 14-6, Zane Cole’s punt was blocked by Jake Andrew, and the ball fell directly into the waiting arms of Brock Beaner, who ran into the end zone untouched.
Late in the first half, Garrow elected to call timeout before a third-and-2, hoping to give his offense about 90 seconds to cut into what was then a 21-point deficit. Instead, the Seahawks got the first down, and went 82 yards in just over two minutes to extend their lead before the break.
After a sack and a penalty forced Anacortes into a third-and-39, Larson found Lang deep down the sideline, and he tiptoed in for a 47-yard touchdown.
The Thunderbirds also committed eight penalties, which cost them 80 yards, went 2 of 13 on third down and 3 of 7 on fourth.
“Those are things that are tough to overcome in a championship game against a great opponent,” Garrow said.
Tumwater finishes its season 13-1 and is set to graduate 13 seniors, including Kastner, Bryant and Kooper Clark.
“They got to experience a really cool setting here,” Garrow said. “And unfortunately, it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to.”