When W.F. West players lifted the Swamp Cup trophy near the north end zone on Friday — in the 114th annual Swamp Cup rivalry match against Centralia — it was the 13th time in a row the Bearcats have hoisted the trophy.
The Bearcats used an avalanche of scoring, six-straight touchdowns, starting near the end of the first quarter, to blow past the visiting Tigers, 42-8, for a convincing rivalry victory.
Junior quarterback Gavin Fugate, who used to be the ball boy on the sidelines for the Bearcats growing up, threw four touchdown passes to help W.F. West cruise to victory.
“It’s great, 13th in a row. It’s going to stay here a lot longer, too,” Fugate said.
The game was far from a blowout in the first quarter, with both squads deadlocked in a scoreless stalemate. But it was Fugate’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Cristo Parriott, wide-open in the back of the end zone at the end of the first quarter, that opened the floodgates.
Jacob Fuller scored on a 12-yard rush less than two minutes later, followed by the first of two back-to-back onside kick recoveries by the Bearcats.
“Once we got a few things cleaned up, we executed like we were supposed to,” W.F. West coach Dan Hill said. “Getting those onside kicks to keep the momentum going, and we had a few plays designed to score fast. The second quarter was a lot of fun.”
W.F. West capitalized on both as Fugate connected with freshman wideout Gage Brumfield for back-to-back touchdowns down the far sideline, for 32 and 36 yards.
Fugate had one more left on his arm, hitting Evan Stadjuhar from 26 yards out to put the lead to 35-0 with 4:07 left in the third. Brock Guyette closed out the Bearcats’ scoring with a 3-yard TD rush with 10:28 to play.
Centralia finally tacked on a score when Tommy Billings hit Blake Seymour for a 44-yard touchdown with 6:19 to play. But by then, the game was far out of reach.
Despite not being the result the Tigers wanted, Centralia coach Jeremy Thibault wasn’t entirely discouraged by his team’s performance.
“We competed,” Thibault said. “They’re a very good football team. Lots of weapons. The score isn’t indicative of what we did tonight. We had a lot of kids play well, but (W.F. West) big-played us.”
The Tigers were dealing with some last-minute personnel changes, with starting quarterback Landon Jenkins and starting tailback/free safety Chase Sobolesky both out. Instead, Billings came in with no reps in practice for the past two weeks and was forced to face a formidable Bearcat defense.
“What we had done in preparation for offense, we could not do,” Thibault said. “We threw Tommy to the wolves and he responded well. I thought he did well for having no reps. They’re a very fast defense. Their defense is well-coached.”
Billings finished 3 of 10 passing for 69 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown pass. The Tigers were held to just 75 total yards of offense.
W.F. West, meanwhile, was buoyed by Fugate’s passing performance and Brumfield’s pass-catching abilities. The freshman wideout finished with six catches for 122 yards and two scores. Centralia’s run defense did a commendable job, holding the Bearcats to 139 yards on the ground.
W.F. West racked up 371 total yards of offense, mostly from Fugate’s 220 yards through the air on 15 of 26 passing. Fuller was their leading rusher, taking nine carries for 47 yards.
Hill is now undefeated through four years as head coach of the Bearcats, and said it feels rewarding to help make it 13 Swamp Cup victories in a row.
“All wins feel good, but keeping Swampy at our place is always a great feeling,” Hill said. “It sits in the office for a week. It’s a lot of fun.
W.F. West (6-2, 4-1 league) finishes out the regular season at Black Hills on Friday. Centralia (1-7, 0-5 league) closes out its regular season by hosting Tumwater on Friday.