The Tumwater Thunderbirds are headed back to the state championship game for the seventh time in school history, all under legendary head coach Sid Otton, who is going for win number 360. They have a plethora of seniors with big time experience and the lingering taste of a 2012 championship defeat to Lynden.
“Going back to the dome means a lot to me, but not enough. Last year, we were so caught up on making it to the dome, not to finish the job,” senior QB Jayden Croft told NEI. “This year, we are taking a new approach. Our goal is to dominate in the dome, not just make it there.”
Losing last year to Lynden was unfamiliar territory for the Thunderbirds, who came into the contest 5-0 all-time in state championship appearances.
The Thunderbirds worked hard all offseason to get back to Tacoma, and came out hot to start the season. Their lowest point total on the season came in a 26-14 win over 4A semifinalist Bellarmine Prep, but the offense is still averaging close to 46 points per game.
Senior RB Christian Cummings will be the feature back in the run heavy offense, and has carried 177 times for 1,700 yards and 28 TDs. For his efforts, he was voted at the Evergreen Conference’s MVP by the league’s coaches.
“It’s a great accomplishment too be back at the dome with my team I’ve been in the dome three out of my four years in high school and it’s a awesome experience,” Cummings said. “Ever since last year we have always wanted another shot at Lynden, and playing them in the state championship is awesome! Exactly what we wanted.”
Doing a lot of the heavy lifting for the Thunderbirds is 1st team All-League lineman Korye Trejo. He was voted first team offense this season, while garnering first team defense last year. Trejo excels on both sides of the ball, and is one of the team leaders with 56 tackles, 9 for a loss and 5 sacks. When teamed alongside Nick Foerstel (9 sacks), there may not be a more lethal combo in the state.
“It means the world to me to step out there as a T-Bird. The coaches we have could be on any college program and be amazing coaches,” Trejo noted. “They have so much experience and they set us up for success but, they also teach us life lessons these men will effect the players of this team for the rest of their lives.”
For the second straight season, Gabe Gleizes is a first team All-League member of the defensive backfield. He leads the Thunderbirds with 6 INTs, and is the second leading tackler with 75. “It’s all about tradition. We are representing all the teams that came before us,” Gleizes said. “I want to leave what 2010 left for me, an example of Tumwater Winning Football.”
Should the Thunderbirds win on Saturday, it will come as no surprise to me as I picked them back in March. They are a hard working group of skilled athletes with unquestionably some the state’s best coaching.
I will leave you with a quote from Korye Trejo… “The thing that really gets you is the fact that your senior year you made it all the way. There is no tomorrow. After these last 4 quarters of football it’s over. So if I have to by carted off that field at the end of it, then cart me off because I’m not coming off unless I absolutely have to.”