TUMWATER — Saturday night’s matchup between No. 1 Tumwater and No. 4 Squalicum certainly lived up to its billing, but in a somewhat surprising way. With rain pounding on the turf at Tumwater District Stadium, neither offense could get into any kind of rhythm, and when it was all said and done, the Thunderbirds came out on top, 14-3.
Replacing a lot of production on both sides of the ball from a dominant spring season and a 2019 state title run, the T-Birds are right back on the big stage.
“To get back to the state championship game, it was just a fantastic effort,” T-Birds coach Bill Beattie said. “The defense tonight was lights out.”
Beattie’s defense, indeed, was terrific. With a Storm backfield that featured two Washington State football commits in quarterback Leyton Smithson and tailback Djouvensky Schlenbaker, the pair could hardly get anything going on offense.
Though Smithson broke through the Thunderbird defense a few times for big gains on the ground, Tumwater held strong in the red zone and kept the Storm out of the end zone all night.
“We needed to limit the big plays by (Smithson) and (Schlenbaker),” Beattie said. “They’re going to get some, but for the most part we kept them under control. I can’t say enough about those guys, it was fantastic.”
The Thunderbirds had a hard time as well, with Beattie saying the Storm had “as good of a defense as we’ve seen all year,” but two touchdowns in the second quarter proved decisive in the win.
The first was on a nice throw and catch from quarterback Alex Overbay to tight end Ryan Otton, and the second came just before the halftime buzzer, with Payton Hoyt bursting through the end zone in the wildcat.
Simply put, the T-Birds did enough on offense to win, and head to the state finals for the second season in a row.
“It was a heck of a tough game,” Beattie said.
Tumwater will match up with No. 2 Lynden in the state championship game next Saturday at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.