Part 5: Tumwater Winning Football; The Sid Otton Legacy “1987, the 1st one”

paulb

10/6/16

It was a pretty regular August in 1987, plenty of blue skies and temperatures in the 80’s and upper 70’s, no big heat wave with the blistering temperatures. However, the heat was on Coach Sid Otton and his offensive coordinator Randy Reynolds after deciding to completely throw out the long time Tumwater twin veer option offense and insert a brand new concept with the Wing T.

Otton’s decision to also break up the coaching staff to focus only on their area did actually help the process installing the new offense. With only offensive coaches working 100% of the time on putting in the Wing T while trying to learn as much about it and its nuances, relieved those coaches from worrying about coaching a defensive or special teams position as well. Additionally, Otton knew he would have to rely on the defense more than ever this season to stay in the game while the offense, both players and coaches grasped the concepts and could really understand the Wing T.

No one was saying this out loud but another reason the decision was made at this time was one the coaches would never let the players know and that is 1987 felt like a re-building year and with a huge Junior class coming up it should set the table for 1988. I say the words “felt like” because any coach worth their salt will ever admit to a “re-building” year and maybe a term should have been born from this special group in 1987, instead of re-building, they just built faster.

This was also the 1st year that Coach Otton decided to exclusively go to a platoon system. This would involve a lot more players, give more kids a chance to play which of course made more parents happy in the process. But this was not give everyone a trophy thinking or strategy, this was specifically designed to make the team stronger and better especially late in the game and late in the season. The idea was that even though maybe your best athletes were only going one way the others would more than make up the difference through being coached up, additional reps and experience and that everyone would be a lot more fresh in the 4th quarter over teams that are playing a large number of players both ways.

1987 was somewhat set to be a testing ground for this new approach to see if this line of thinking or philosophy was the right path or more likely to see where they needed to make adjustments and tighten the program for their expected run in 1988. This was in no way giving up on this season but realistic expectations were at a winning record with a hope for the play-offs. The one thing the coaches didn’t figure into this whole equation was the strength of this small but effective Senior class.

Mark Sumrok
Mark Sumrok

We talked with 3 Seniors from that class, Jamie Land, Brian Nurmi and Mark Sumrok. Land was an All-State defensive lineman and also played some short yardage fullback. Land was one of those 2-way starters the year before. Nurmi was a starting linebacker as a senior and had been a Quarterback through his sophomore season when Coach Otton and Alexander said it was time to make a choice either full in on QB or defense. Nurmi said he preferred giving the hits instead of taking them. Sumrok was one of the keys to the new Wing T offense as the blue collar running back that pounded between the tackles. But at the time remembers being disappointed with having to make a choice.

Nurmi remembers going into that season with somewhat of a division on the team between the offense and defense but thought that was somewhat normal as the platoon system was put in place. He said it was clear 1987 would rely on the defense, certainly for the early part of the season as the offense learned the new offense.

Nurmi said by about the halfway mark he could see the offense really start clicking. He also clearly saw how the Wing T would be tough for other defenses to handle. More importantly in his view was the competition was so much better during practices. You had 11 starters battling each other on Tuesday and Wednesday of each week and it was a physical test for each side. Nurmi feels the platoon system really paid off especially during the 2nd half of the season.

Nurmi said once the offense started putting up points the defense was able to relax a little bit and know if they gave up a big play the offense could pick them up. He says, “we weren’t afraid of giving up a big play, we were more focused on making the big play” and that attitude would again play out in a big way down the road.

As this season got underway there was a lot of pressure on GATA the T-Bird defense and they knew it. Here is a recap of the 1987 regular season:

Centralia 26, Tumwater 0

This was not a pretty start to the new offense. Additionally, the defense didn’t show up and quickly there were questions of whether or not this was the right path. The result of this game did not sit well with the Senior leadership and Jamie Land in particular who blew a gasket in the locker room after the game. Land says he was particularly annoyed to hear and see smiles and some laughter after such an embarrassing loss.

Land went into a profanity laced rage chewing out his teammates. Demanding this is not how this season is going to go. In the middle of this tirade the coaches walked in and Land saw them but did not stop letting his feelings be known.

Land told us he saw the coaches and knew it was too late that he would likely be in the 5:15 club for the rest of the season. The 5:15 club was extra conditioning after practice. Coaches used 5:15 to remind players to be focused or as punishment for something they should have known better to do or not do in some cases. He said he didn’t care because a 26-0 ass kicking was worse than any punishment he would get for his choice of verbs, nouns, adverbs and especially adjectives during his “speech”.

**Here’s another one of our famous side bars. Coach Otton is a big man whose style and preference was positive re-enforcement, quiet but firm and motivator. This does not mean he didn’t believe a good chewing out was never needed, he was just unlikely to be the one to do it.

In this case the coaches walked in saw and heard Land having a melt down and they all turned around and left the locker room. Offensive coordinator Randy Reynolds remembered that moment and said that one of the strongest beliefs Otton instilled and all the coaches bought into was true leadership had to come from within the team. This was a case where a Senior was displaying his frustration and getting his message across as to what was going to be acceptable and what was not.

Reynolds says you never know how that’s going to play out with the team but if they dismiss it, it’s likely going to be a long season with the team fractioned off. If they buy in it will bring the team closer together and as a coach sometimes you have to let this natural reaction play out. In this case it brought this team closer together and the true understanding of having to work together may have been born right there in that moment. Land did not get any 5:15 punishment for his “speech” and it appears to have been just what the team needed with their next game result.

Meantime, Sumrok from the offensive side of the ball said even after the horrible start and how frustrating it was the key to this season was simply no one ever questioned or doubted the move from the Veer to the Wing T. Sumrok says they had faith in the coaches and there was a 100% buy in from the players on both sides of the ball.

Tumwater 21, Olympia 14

Despite falling behind 14-0 at the half the Tumwater defense adjusted with the biggest move switching Land from Def Tackle to Nose Guard where he destroyed the middle of the Olympia offensive line. Land finished the game with 10 solo tackles, 3 QB sacks and a fumble recovery. Otton also put Land in at running back and he scored the 2nd TD of the game. Mark Sumrok ran the 1st TD in after the defense took over the ball from the Bears on the Oly 10. Sumrok would power in the go ahead and winning TD to complete the comeback win.

Hall of Fame Olympia coach Bob Dunn was quoted by Olympian reporter O. K. Johnson saying “they just took it to us up front”.

The offense had one long drive and the Wing T was beginning to sink in with the offense. The offensive line opened holes in the 2nd half and QB Larry Quartano was also getting the feel of the misdirection of the offense but they were far from mastering the Wing T and would still need tons of reps to get it down as you will see over the next several weeks.

Tumwater 7, North Thurston 6

All the scoring in this game was done in the 2nd quarter. The Rams struck first when QB Carl Johnson snuck in a TD from the 2 yard line. The T-Birds defense then blocked the PAT which was the difference in the game. Tumwater would get the running game going with Gary Moon finishing with 139 yards rushing and 104 in the 1st half but he found the endzone only once on an 8-yard scamper. Lance Martin booted the PAT for the winning point.

The T-Bird defense came up with 4 interceptions and no receptions for the Rams to fuel the win but the offense was still making many mistakes and the learning process continued but they took the win to improve to 2-1.

Timberline 20, Tumwater 13

The T-Birds gave up 20 1st half points through a bevy of different ways, fumbles, interceptions, blocked punts and so on and the Blazers snapped an 8-year losing streak to Tumwater building that early lead up 20-6 at halftime. The T-Birds Wing T continued to sputter with the 2nd half touchdown a 75-yard punt return by sophomore Scott Gurnsey but the loss would even their record at 2-2.

Aberdeen 8, Tumwater 7

This may have been the lowpoint of the season. Tumwater took their first 1st half lead when Gary Moon capped off a 67-yard drive in the 2nd quarter. But the underdog Bobcats dug in on defense denying Tumwater any further damage and found a way to punch in 1 TD and being the underdogs went for 2 where QB David Procter ran it in for the game winner.

Tumwater 21, Elma 0

The T-Birds did hit rock bottom in that loss to Aberdeen and the team was at a crossroads, do we sit here at the bottom of the lake and drown or bounce back and start playing up to our capability? NGUNNGU was never more important and boy did this group buy in.

The offense had shown signs of clicking and in this game the defense kept giving the offense chances and they would cash in on 2 of those opportunities while the defense would get their own with a fumble recovery in the endzone by Dave Parrish. Dan Jones scored the 1st TD for the T-Birds on a 4-yard run and Quartano would hit Gurnsey on a 15-yard toss for the 3rd score and the T-Birds were 3-3 and just getting started.

Tumwater 23, Capital 6

Sophomore Scott Gurnsey gave notice in this game he would be someone the Black Hills League would have to contend with for the next 2 seasons. In this game he caught a 10-yard TD pass from Quartano, returned a punt for 47-yards setting up a Lance Martin field goal and then Gurnsey picked off a pass returning it 47-yards setting up yet another score.

This game also saw the offense take advantage of more of those opportunities than in any other game this season. The offense was starting to click and the defense was noticing and you saw this coming together as a team, truly understanding the new vision put in place by Coach Otton.

We talked with Coach Otton about this process and he admitted there were concerns from the coaching staff of platooning and dividing the coaching staff. Would it create a true division in the team or would it be friendly competition? This was the gamble with making such drastic changes and so far it had been a struggle but after posting back to back wins scoring 20+ points the whole T-Bird family saw the end result and strengthened their resolve to finish the job that 1986 and prior had begun.

Tumwater 16,  Centralia 14

This was a huge game for the T-Birds and Tigers. At the top of this re-cap you will see these 2 teams had already played once and the Tigers ripped the T-Birds 26-0. In a rare instance where football teams play each other twice in a season not including play-offs, this was one of those rare occasions.

The 2nd time is the one that counted and the Tigers would face a much different T-Bird squad. This Tumwater team had now had 8 weeks with the new offense and it was coming together. The defense was also different story. This set up yet another crazy finish where if just one little thing had been done differently, Tumwater would have missed the play-offs again like in 1985 by 1 game and be one of the teams no one wanted to play late in the year.

This also reckons back to 1977 where they were blown out early in the season by Capital only to face them late in the season for a winner to state loser out contest. This wasn’t a winner to state but it sure was the only hope for the T-Birds to get to post season.

In the 1st half both teams slugged it out with the Tigers scoring first and taking a 7-0 lead. Tumwater rallied back and Quartano hit a TD pass to the big tight end Eric Peterson and at the half it was even at 7-7. No one scored in the 3rd and in the 4th again Centralia would strike first on Trevor Westlund’s 2nd scoring run and the Tigers held a 14-7 lead. Tumwater answered, this time Karl Pfaff a sophomore who stepped in a few weeks earlier for Gary Moon who got injured. Pfaff ran it in from the 2 but Eric Morrisette’s PAT kick was blocked and the Tigers led 14-13 with not a lot of time left to play.

If you believe in angels then there was plenty of reason to believe the T-Birds had one looking out for them over the next series of plays. Centralia had the ball and moved toward midfield and forced Tumwater to use their time-outs but also threw at least one time incomplete pass that stopped the clock. Tumwater then held the Tigers to a 4th and 1 near midfield with about 90-seconds to play. Centralia Head Coach Potter decided to go for the 1st down on 4th and 1 figuring a 1st down would end the game they could kneel the clock away.

Potter didn’t count on the T-Birds shooting the gaps and denying the Tigers a 1st down. So instead of getting the ball back deep on your side of the 50 with no time-outs, they were at mid-field. A big pass from Quartano to Gurnsey got them into field goal range. Dan Jones then ran the ball into the middle of the field for Morrissette but it was still a 38-yard attempt on a damp, cold night.

The snap from the 21 to the holder who placed it on the 28-yard line was perfect and the Junior Kicker unloaded with a perfect boot over the crossbar stunning Centralia with just seconds left to play. The T-Birds clinched the win and set up a date with Shelton for a share of the league title and a chance for the play-offs.

**Sidebar: For those of you who like odd facts, in 1977 Tumwater lost to Capital in a non-league game 56-7, in 1987 the T-Birds lost a non-league game to Centralia 26-0. Both teams would face those opponents again in a re-match and both T-Bird teams would stun those 2 teams that rolled over them earlier in the year…..and by the same 16-14 score.

Tumwater 21, Shelton 0

The season was certainly on the line and a win over Shelton guaranteed a tie with the Highclimbers and post-season play of some kind. Let’s step back a minute here as well, this season was really odd because it was a 3A-2A mix with 11 teams. So there would be teams that would not face each other and they decided against a split league because it would not be equal with 9 2A teams. North Thurston and Timberline both had to move up to 3A, the highest classification at the time. Elma was teetering on falling to 1A. The full league included Aberdeen, Capital, Centralia, Chehalis, Elma, Hoquiam, North Thurston, Olympia, Shelton, Timberline and Tumwater.

There would be 2A teams that would play 7 league games and some only 6 so it was decided that the champion would be determined by losses. So heading into this game Shelton was undefeated, Tumwater, Centralia and Chehalis all had 1 loss and only the top 2 would go to state. Tumwater got Shelton and Centralia was playing Chehalis. I know it’s confusing, but that’s how it was done and sets up how big this game was for all 4 teams.

It was November 6th when the highclimbers visited the T-Birds. Early on in the season no one would have thought twice about the Highclimbers winning this game but Tumwater was on a roll and they jumped on the 1985 State Champions in a hurry.

The offense posted 13 points in the 1st quarter on a TD run by Mark Sumrok and a TD pass from Quartano to Gurnsey. The 13-0 score was all they would need but Casey Lowe added a 24-yard fumble recovery in the 2nd quarter to ice the game by halftime.

In the Olympian story Coach Otton had high praise for all 3 phases of the game. The defense blanked Shelton through the air not allowing 1 completion while snaring 4 interceptions to bring their total to 20 for the season setting a new school record. Sean Finney grabbed the 20th pick-off for the record. Otton was pleased at the balance the offense had especially in the 1st half where they built their lead. They ran 30 of 34 2nd half plays to run the clock as much as possible while the defense overwhelmed what had been a dangerous Highclimber offense.

This created a 3-way tie for 1st and the BHL Title because Chehalis belted Centralia to eliminate the Tigers and advanced the Bearcats and a 3-way play-off would happen the following Tuesday to determine the top 2 teams. It was Shelton and Tumwater both at 5-1 and Chehalis at 6-1. Each team would play the other in a 12-minute, 1-quarter play-off, round robin at Centralia High School.

3-Way Play-off: Tumwater 3, Chehalis 0, Tumwater 7, Shelton 0, Shelton 13, Chehalis 0

In this odd year of the weird league and unbalanced schedules it all came down to this mini-play-off. Tumwater faced the Bearcats of WF West first and after a tug-o-war back and forth it would be a dump pass to Dan Jones from Larry Quartano who turned it into a 53-yard gain that set up the only points in the mini game. Eric Morrissette would boot home a 24-yard field goal with only 15-seconds left to play for the win.

The T-Birds were then 1-win away from claiming a State play-off berth and the #1 seed. They again got to face the Highclimbers who they just shut out 4 days earlier 21-0. The Climbers fumbled the opening kick-off on their own 24 and it was recovered by Tumwater’s Shawn Stein.

Quartano then hit Eric Peterson for a 19-yard completion and Quartano would sneak it in from the 1 a play later. The defense went to work and shut out the Climbers and through 5 quarters of football Tumwater had outscored Shelton 28-0 and claimed the #1 seed into the State play-offs. Shelton had defeated the Bearcats to eliminate them in the 2nd game of the mini-play-off.

Perfect Ending to an Imperfect Beginning

It’s hard to believe this but once the T-Birds got to the Play-offs it was like the hardest part was over. The new offense was clicking, the defense just got nastier and nastier and the kicking game had won a couple of games for them. Somehow, someway this whole thing came together in 12-weeks and now a sudden death play-off game was not so daunting. The entire focus of all 3 phases could now focus on the opponent and not themselves.

Here is the rest of how this most improbable season played out:

1st Round of the Play-offs

Tumwater 29, Lakeside 0binder1_page_05

Coach Otton’s quote to the Olympian just may be as true today as it was in 1987, “This team has improved more than any I’ve been associated with in the last 14 years”. This team is likely still the team that grew more than any other T-Bird team in history when you consider the huge task assigned to them and they were about to bask in the pay-off.

In this Lakeside game the defensive line that had been stellar all season of Jamie Land, Shawn Stein and Darrell Chambers dominated the Lakeside O-line. The defense once again provided plenty of chances for the offense to cash in and they did. The defense was so dominate Lakeside finished with a total of 28 offensive yards. On to the quarter-finals where they would find former BHL member Yelm.

Tumwater 25, Yelm 0

Winner to the Tacoma Dome and loser out, well there was no way this T-Bird team would be derailed and this magnificent season continued to pick up steam. The defense started things off with a safety on Yelm’s opening drive, little did they know that is all they would need.

Up next special teams with Dan Jones returning the free kick 57-yards for the TD and a 9-0 lead. Defense’s turn again, this time Shawn Stein blocks a 3rd down quick kick and Casey Lowe scores his 2nd defensive touchdown of the season running it in 33 yards and in less than 4 minutes into the game the T-Birds had a 16-0 lead. The d-line of Land, Stein, Chambers along with ends Tim Doelman and Ed Hicks simply pounded the Tornados into submission.

Land would score the only offensive touchdown of the game on a 2-yard plunge behind the blocking of Chuck Hendrickson and Noel West and Morrissette had another field goal for the final 25-0 score.

Semi-Finals Tacoma Dome round 2

This would be the 2nd straight trip to the Tacoma Dome for the T-Birds and not only were they a completely different team than from a year ago they would also change how they approached playing in the Dome. Offensive Coordinator Randy Reynolds admitted that he screwed up the year before. He felt it was important for the players to get to experience the Dome and the whole Semi-Final atmosphere.

In 1986 the Semi’s were played on Thanksgiving Day. Reynolds pushed hard to leave early and let the team watch the earlier games. He said Coach Otton and Alexander were leaning toward trying to keep the routine as normal as possible but Reynolds made a strong case and the T-Birds were there early. After having a team meal they then watched the other games and about 4 hours later were allowed into the limited locker room to begin preparation. Reynolds believes that is one of the reasons why 1986 ended in the Tacoma Dome and not the Kingdome where the State Finals were held it was just way too long to be sitting around.

That mistake would not happen in 1987 and the team kept to their regular road game routine and they were prepared to take on another Northern team in the Semi-Finals when they lined up against the Bellingham Red Raiders.

Tumwater 8, Bellingham 2

Talk about redemption! Why not advance to the State Championship game on nearly the identical score that booted you the year before? Once again the Tumwater defense was overwhelming. The Red Raiders defense was pretty stout as well in fact they tackled Sumrok in the endzone on the opening possession for the Red Raiders only points.

Coach Otton believed this is the game that solidified the platoon system. the two teams simply battered each other but Bellingham had several 2-way starters and by the 3rd quarter they were getting tired. The offense got things going for the one and only drive they would need. Nurmi and Land tell us they were urging on the offense to just get us a lead and that’s all we need. Nurmi said if we got any points we are going to win they aren’t going to score on us.

The critical drive came in the 3rd and began with a couple of short plays, a 1st down and then Larry Quartano found Gurnsey sprinting downfield on a go route and Quartano dropped it in on a dime for the 64-yard bomb. Quartano then hit Eric Peterson for the 2-point conversion but the damage was done and GATA slammed the door on the Red Raiders season.

For All the Marbles

There is just no way this story can end with a loss and it does not. This miraculous story ends with a win and a State Championship.

Tumwater 21, West Valley (Yakima) 14binder1_page_30

The Kingdome was a much different place than playing in the Tacoma Dome. It was much bigger and of course home to the Seattle Seahawks. Brian Nurmi says when they got to the Dome they were told they needed to get this over with and the escort told the team to stand in the middle of the field and look up. Look up and look around and understand how huge this place is and get the feeling for it. Nurmi says it was a crazy feeling standing where Jim Zorn, Steve Largent and other Seahawk greats played.

Now that the introduction was over it was time to focus on the Rams. When the game kicked off the T-Birds kind of fell back on some old habits falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter. The Rams scored on a pair of TD passes and had the Tumwater defense on their heels for the first time in a long time.

This whole season was topsy-turvy from day 1 for the offense but they had definately felt all season the defense had kept them and won the majority of the games. Larry Quartano is quoted in a story in the Seattle Time by Jim Moore that he and the offense were surprised with how the defense gave up 2 1st half touchdowns, they hadn’t seen that since that before.

Quartano said all the work the offense put in to getting this thing on track was ready to pay off and it was their turn to help the defense. Sumrok remembers the offense at times feeling guilty because they weren’t contributing as much to getting to where they were. Maybe it was that guilt and feeling that it was their turn that turned this game around and there was never a more important time for the offense to find its groove than now.

One of the things Coach Otton did was formally introduce sophomore running back Karl Pfaff to the world who ran wild in this game topping 150 yards on the ground. Tumwater’s Wing-T offense would get the ball on their own 5-yard line and proceed with an impressive 95-yard touchdown drive that began with a 30-yard burst from Pfaff and ended with Quartano going in from the 9-yard line and the T-Birds were on the board.

After looking like Swiss cheese in the 1st quarter the T-Bird defense decided that Sharp Cheddar was more their style…no holes. The Rams were driving again however, after the Tumwater TD but then “the” play occurred. The West Valley QB dropped back to pass when Tim Doelman hit him for an apparent sack but then Chris Treat tried to dump off the pass and there was Jamie Land who picked it off and rumbled 60+ yards for the tying score. Land said he always wanted to know if anyone could run him down from behind in a situation like that and what a great way to find the answer…no.

The 2 teams would go to the break tied 14-14 but momentum had shifted. Defensive Coordinator Pat Alexander said he felt the defense came out tight and after he and Coach Shoun and the other defensive coaches got together at the half they came back with some simple adjustments but mostly let them just play football and didn’t want to get in the way of how they finished the 1st half.

The 2 teams deadlocked through the 3rd quarter and a familiar connection hooked up in the 4th for the final and winning points of the game when Quartano found his favorite target Scott Gurnsey on a 29-yard touchdown pass as Gurnsey torched double coverage and it was 21-14. The defense, all T-Bird fans had come to know and count on returned and blanked a beaten down West Valley team to claim Tumwater’s 1st State Championship.

This is how Coach Otton and the T-Birds introduced the Wing-T to the world and would go on to great success that is still enjoyed today. It was truly an amazing year and one of the gutsiest moves a Head Coach could make after the year they had in 1986.

Now days such a move simply wouldn’t happen. There’s too much pressure on coaches to win now even though in High School you get the players you get but somehow you’re expected to turn programs around in less than 3 years. It has now been 14 seasons since Otton took over Tumwater’s program and it took 13 years to get to the pinnacle.

One of the reasons I wanted to write this story was to point out to those people who can’t wait anymore and because their little Johnny deserves to be in a State Title game. There is no doubt there are a lot more glorious days ahead of Tumwater Football history but the foundation took 13 years of trial and error. 13 years of players who went through losing seasons with no hope of post-season to those who felt they had the right stuff but an injury here or a bad break there kept them out or limited their run  when it was clear they had a chance to win it all.

I can tell you from personal experience that there is no doubt the many of us who played and did not get to lift that trophy in 1987 would have loved to have been the team to do that. But no one I know would trade 2-seconds to play for anyone else, to experience football any other way than in T-Bird Green under Coach Otton. And when the 1987 team lifted that trophy and raised their fingers to number 1 they also lifted the previous 13 Tumwater teams with them.

I am not sure if the players of 1987 understood to this day what they accomplished or for just how many people they represented on that day. Hopefully 29 years later it’s sinking in and hopefully AD Tim Graham reads this and understands that next season on the 30th anniversary of this momentous achievement there better be a pretty dang good celebration. (Sorry Tim for creating extra work for you but it needs to be done.)

When the 1987 team raised that trophy on the Kingdome turf the hands of the 74, 75 & 76 team were on it as well suffering through a 7-20 start to the Sid Otton era. 1977 who without, the 1987 team would no doubt not have been led by Coach Otton, the banged up 78 team the heartbreak loss of 79 on the last game of the season to keep them out of the play-offs. 1980 with their magnificent run to set the bar higher, the 81 team that got off to a 1-4 start but posted a 5-4 season, 82 all set for a big run but lost the starting QB in the 1st half of the 1st game but still came up with a 6-3 record just missing post season, 83 getting to the play-offs but ousted on the phantom field goal, 84 off to a slow start and missing the play-offs with yet another 6-3 year, 85 also 6-3 but winning 6 in a row including over Shelton who went on to win the State Championship and finally the 1986 team that was such a reminder of why and how 1987 came to be. 1987 represented each and everyone of those players. It was simply amazing.

A great big thanks to Jamie Land, all of the clippings he shared from his scrap book, Randy Reynolds, Brian Nurmi and Mark Sumrok and of course Coach Otton. Next week the Tumwater machine as we know it now gets cranked to the max as we take a look at 1988 and then likely the best T-Bird team of all time, 1989.

**Here is another great individual story from that team from a whole different perspective and I am glad to add it, hoping he doesn’t mind since he posted it on facebook.

By Cecil Boyd

This was an amazing and challenging ride… I went to the wing-t camp in Bellevue that summer, I was pretty sure I would play fullback that year with some time at middle linebacker… boy I was surprised by the plans the coaches had for us coming into unity camp. Coach Alexander told me I would be playing defensive end, that scared the 💩 out of me… it took a whole different mind set.

With the platoon system now in place, I spent most my time with the defense, but coach Reynolds still wanted me to take reps at fullback just in case of injury. But the more time I spent on defense, the less time I wanted to play fullback, I really liked to do the hitting. Well by the time the first game came around, I was the starting right defensive end, I was so jacked up… and well, I got my butt kicked, I got to enjoy a butt chewing a few times on the sideline while Ed Hicks went in for me… I learned a lot that game about humility and how important it was to not get sucked in.

In practice that next week, I was ready to roll… Game 2, I was much improved but at half time I had to leave the game because of the stomach flu. Game 3 was my best game yet, I did my job and how great it felt and I finally felt like a real defensive end…

Game 4, the game that changed everything for me, on the first play after half time, I blew out my right knee, a complete dislocation, the pain was so intense, I couldn’t hear anything but this ringing in my head until the doc popped it back in place… then instantly it ballooned to the size of a basketball, I knew I wouldn’t be going back in the game… I completely tore my meniscus in half.

After seeing the doc on many occasions, I decided to put off surgery until after the season, I wanted to see if I could play again when the swelling went down. It was a lonely place on the injured squad, prior to that one second of time, I was so involved, I was apart of this greatness, then boom… the team has to move on, they have a job to do. So I had to watch this amazing show from the sideline until after the three way playoff, I finally got doctors clearance to return.

During the playoffs, I didn’t have much to offer, I fought hard to get caught up psychically, but never did. I felt so fortunate to play on the kickoff team, to be able to go out there, to smell the cool grass while running down the field.

I will never forget the bus ride to the king dome, walking into the locker room, warming up on the Seahawks home turf. The kick off, running down the field after the ball carrier… I was so nervous…. I think the butterflies were going wild with all the guys, but damn I will never forget Jamie Land’s interception for a TD and Jamie jumping the snap and flying over the center and sacking their QB before he could take a step backwards… absolutely amazing! We were all so fortune to be apart of this great team, the coaches did an amazing job uniting us and made us believe we will win our schools first football state championship.

Coach Otton, Coach Shoun, Coach Alexander and the late great Coach Taylor, thank you for all you did, you all will always be more than football coaches to me. Thank you

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