2A Football: Tumwater Trounces Tigers in EvCo Finale
Murphy’s Law: Injury Bug Bites Again as Centralia Falls 62-6 to T-Birds
By Jordan Nailon
Facing the undefeated and number one ranked Thunderbirds of Tumwater here in the Hub City on Friday the Tigers set a bare minimum goal for themselves at the onset of the 2A Evergreen Conference football contest — Don’t get hurt.
So naturally, on the game’s first play from scrimmage Centralia running back Braidyn Hoyt carried the ball for three hard knock yards and a pile of shredded tire fluff. He then emerged from the pile obviously hobbled and barely able to get off of the field under his own power. Hoyt did not return the rest of the game and early indications are that the junior may have broken his ankle on the play.
In hindsight that fateful first play was mere foreshadowing for what would come as the T-Birds trounced the Tigers, 62-6. The loss leaves Centralia in a three-way tie for third place in the EvCo with Aberdeen and Black Hills. The Tigers, Bobcats, and Wolves will now have to play a Kansas Tie-Breaker on Tuesday in order to determine which two teams qualify for the district crossover game and who goes home with their collective tail between their legs.
“I think our kids played great even though the score doesn’t indicate that,” said Centralia coach Jeremy Thibault after Friday’s loss. “Unfortunately we’ve been bit by the injury bug. We’ve got a guard out, a couple of DB’s, a tight end, but the rest of the kids stepped up and played well.”
However, facing a depleted Centralia roster on the Tigers’ senior night, Tumwater was able to steal the show with 464 yards of offense and 48 unanswered first half points.
Turner Allen got the T-Birds started with a 42-yard touchdown run and Jack Jones followed up shortly thereafter with a 28-yard scoring jaunt. Dylan Paine then chipped in a 72-yard touchdown scamper before Hunter Baker scored the first of his two touchdown’s from nine yards out. Jaylen Clay added a 52-yard rushing score midway through the second quarter before Baker got loose again, this time for a 66-yard scoring saunter.
Centralia held possession for the final play of the first half and snapped the ball with four seconds left on the clock. Tyler Woods then proceeded to rip the ball from the clutches of the Tigers’ ball carrier and returned it 34-yards for a touchdown well after time had expired.
The second half offered little relief for Centralia as the first play from scrimmage wound up as a 44-yard rushing touchdown for Clay. Then in the fourth quarter, it was Jones who snagged an interception and returned it 90 yards the other way for the T-Birds final score of the night.
Thibault conceded that Tumwater is a particularly talented team with an embarrassment of riches at their skill positions and in the trenches.
“They showed us for an extra long time,” said Thibault of Tumwater’s first string talent.
Thibault also noted how proud he was of players like Caleb Simpson, who led the Tigers in rushing with 19 carries for 73 yards despite playing out of position in a pinch created by all of those team injuries.
“Caleb Simpson stepped up big for us tonight. I don’t know what his stats are but he ran pretty hard so it’s nice to have that luxury, to have somebody who’s willing to just run right in there,” Thibault said. “Hopefully that’s a characteristic we can build on. I mean obviously we’d love to have the biggest, fastest, strongest kids in the state. I’d probably only play them two and a half quarters up 60 but that’s just my style.”
Trailing 62-0 with just over three minutes remaining in a game with a running clock Centralia was finally able to get off the schneid when Cameron Erickson connected with Chase Sobolesky-Reynolds for a 32-yard touchdown pass. Sobolesky-Reynolds hauled in another Erickson pass earlier in the game for 38 yards to round out the spoils of the Tigers’ air attack.
“That’s a play that we used to run down at Toledo but at this level it hasn’t worked. So we thought, ‘Well Sobo’s a pretty special kid. Let’s try it with him.’ It’s worked twice. He caught a touchdown against Chehalis on the same play,” noted Thibault.
With the status of several players unknown for Tuesday’s do-or-die tie-breaker affair the Tigers look like they may be playing short staffed one way or another. While tight end Benito Valencia is expected to return from a shoulder injury to play in the tie-breaker, all indications after the game were that Hoyt is unlikely to suit up.
“The kid is super tough. He doesn’t ever talk,” said Thibault. “He’s always like, ‘I’m good. I’m good!’ and then he runs like a horse you should put down in the back. So for him to come off the field in tears, I mean the kid is so tough, I just hope it’s not broken. He’s been the unexpected cog in our wheel that makes things go.”
Centralia will host Black Hills and Aberdeen on Tuesday evening in a Kansas style tie-breaker to determine final seeding in the 2A Evergreen Conference. The top two finishers will place third and fourth in the conference and advance to the district crossover playoff. A start time has not been set for the tie-breaker.
Taylor, Johnson Lead Bearcats Past Aberdeen to Wrap Regular Season
ABERDEEN — W.F. West stayed a step ahead of the Bobcats in the first half, and then shut down the hosts after the break for a 56-28 Evergreen 2A Conference football victory here Friday night.
The win means W.F. West (8-1) finishes second in the EvCo standings, and will host Greater St. Helens 2A League No. 3 team Washougal on Friday night in the winner-to-state crossover round.
Josiah Johnson did the heavy lifting on offense, running seven times for 102 yards and hitting 16 of 23 passes for 286 yards. Max Taylor was his most productive target, hauling in 11 passes for 204 yards and four touchdowns and adding a 60-yard interception return.
The Bobcats, though, went toe-to-toe with W.F. West through the first half, getting a touchdown from Ethan Morrill and three from Connar Sherman to knot things up at 28-28 late in the second quarter.
It was all Johnson and Taylor after that, though. The duo connected for an 11-yard touchdown to leave the Bearcats up 35-28 at halftime, connected for a 56-yard score in the third quarter, and hooked up for a 3-yard touchdown in the fourth. Taylor iced things with his pick-6 later in the fourth.
Luke Wichert ran in two touchdowns in the first half for W.F. West, and Leandre Gaines returned a kickoff 70 yards for a score in the first quarter.
W.F. West and Washougal kick off at 7 p.m. Friday night. The Bearcats beat the Panthers 23-7 on Sept. 27 in a nonleague game.
T-BIRDS 62, TIGERS 6
Tumwater 13 35 7 7 — 62
Centralia 0 0 0 6 — 6
TUM — Turner Allen 42-yard run; kick fail
TUM — Jack Jones 28-yard run; Nathan Vani kick
TUM — Dylan Paine 72-yard run; Vani kick
TUM — Hunter Baker 9-yards; Vani kick
TUM — Jaylen Clay 52-yard run; Vani kick
TUM — Baker 66-yard run; Vani kick
TUM — Tyler Woods 34-yard fumble recovery; Vani kick
TUM — Clay 44-yard run; Vani kick
TUM — Jones 90-yard interception return; Vani kick
CEN — Cameron Erickson 32-yard pass to Chase Sobolesky-Reynolds; kick fail
Team Stats TUM CEN
First Downs 15 8
Rushing Yards 403 100
Passing Yards 61 70
Total Yards 464 170
Comp-Att-Int 3-6-0 3-9-1
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 3/2
Penalties/Yards 11/85 4/30
Rushing: TUM — Dylan Paine 6/121, Jaylen Clay 3/102, Hunter Baker 3/85; CEN — Caleb Simpson 19/73, Kyler Lavato 4/10
Passing: TUM — Cody Whalen 3-6/61; CEN — Cameron Erickson 3-9/70
Receiving: TUM — Austin Terry 1/35, Danny Goodburn 1/21; CEN — Chase Sobolesky-Reynolds 2/70
BEARCATS 56, BOBCATS 28
W.F. West 14 21 7 14 —56
Aberdeen 12 16 0 0 —28
ABE — Ethan Morrill 9-yard run; conversion failed
WFW — Leandre Gaines 70-yard kickoff return; kick good
ABE — Connar Sherman 2-yard run; conversion failed
WFW — Josiah Johnson 22-yard pass to Max Taylor; kick good
WFW — Luke Wichert 3-yard run; kick good
ABE — Sherman 3-yard run; conversion good
WFW — Wichert 2-yard run; kick good
ABE — Sherman 1-yard run; conversion good
WFW — Johnson 11-yard pass to Taylor; kick good
WFW — Johnson 56-yard pass to Taylor; kick good
WFW — Johnson 3-yard pass to Taylor; kick good
WFW — Taylor 60-yard interception return; kick good
Team Stats WFW ABE
First Downs 16 21
Rushing Yards 145 326
Passing Yards 286 42
Total Yards 431 368
Comp-Att-Int 16-23-0 3-8-2
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 0/0
Penalties/Yards 5/34 3/17
Rushing: WFW — Josiah Johnson 7/102, Luke Wichert 8/17; ABE — Ethan Morrill 30/210, Connar Sherman 10/28
Passing: WFW — Josiah Johnson 16-23/286; ABE — Cody Bemis 2-6/13
Receiving: WFW — Max Taylor 11/204, Carter McCoy 1/34, Cade Haller 2/33; ABE — Austin Neeley 1/29, Ethan Morrill 1/8