TUMWATER — Throughout the course of the season, the Tumwater defensive backs haven’t always had the chance to showcase their skills.
In the 2A EvCo, they’ve played several teams that, like Tumwater, gain most of their yardage on the ground.
Facing a Clarkston team that averaged over 200 yards passing coming into Saturday, however, Tumwater coach William Garrow was hopeful that they would get the opportunity to make plays.
The Tumwater secondary got their chances on Saturday, and they answered the bell, coming away with four interceptions in the second quarter of the Thunderbirds’ 42-6 blowout win over Clarkston in the 2A quarterfinals.
“Those kids are a really good group,” Garrow said. “I’m not surprised by those guys making plays.”
The flurry of takeaways erased any doubt early on, as the T-Birds scored 21 points off of those turnovers to extend their lead to 42-0 at halftime.
Cash Short, Derek Thompson, and David Malroy’s interceptions came on three straight drives, while Beckett Wall got one for the linebackers two drives after Malroy’s.
Wall snuffed out a screen play, got a hand on the ball to tip it into the air and came down with the pick.
“Anytime you can get a takeaway and turn it into points is a big deal,” Garrow said. “We’re better because of the way those guys play. When they get a chance to go get the football the way they did tonight, it changes the momentum so much.”
Like they have all year, the Thunderbirds moved the ball on the ground at will, rushing for five touchdowns in the first half and 350 yards on the day.
Peyton Davis came through with several long runs, including touchdowns from 49 and 56 yards out. He finished the day with 174 yards on just 10 carries.
Kooper Clark didn’t find the end zone, but he also gashed the Bantam defense on a consistent basis, averaging 9.4 yards per carry. Davis and Clark were two of ten T-Birds who got at least one carry on the day.
The offense’s other touchdown came on a play-action play near the goal line, one where Ethan Kastner found a wide open Logan Cole in the corner of the end zone.
With the win, the Thunderbirds are back in the state semifinals for the third time in the last four state tournaments.
They’ll take on No. 4 North Kitsap next Saturday in the state semifinal, which beat No. 5 Lynden in overtime in its quarterfinal.
After two blowout wins, Garrow knows that as they advance deeper into the postseason, they’ll need to stay on top of their game throughout to have a chance.
“It’s gonna be a dog fight no matter what,” Garrow said. “We know next week is gonna be a four quarter game, and we have to play better in the second half.”
In the meantime, however, they’ll prepare with a regular week of practice, which will include a practice on Thanksgiving morning.
"We talk about practicing on Thanksgiving,” Garrow said. “We talk about how cool that is and how rare it is for a lot of schools and programs. To have it is something that’s special.”