TUMWATER — Many football coaches would trade just about anything for one undefeated regular season.
Tumwater's Sid Otton now has 13 of them on his resume. A baker's dozen to go with five state titles – a figure which could become six at season's end given just how well Otton's squad has been performing.
The Thunderbirds capped their first unblemished regular season since 2007 with a convincing display against cross-town rival Black Hills in the annual Pioneer Bowl at Tumwater District Stadium on Friday.
Christian Cummings ran for three touchdowns, Jayden Croft tossed a 15-yard TD pass to Griffin Shea and Tumwater's defense was its usual disruptive self in a 56-22 Evergreen Conference 2A victory over the Wolves.
Tumwater improved its record to a 9-0, including a 5-0 mark in EvCo.
The T-Birds are 47-3 in conference games since the EvCo's formation in 2006, winning their last 23 conference games.
In fact, Tumwater's last EvCo defeat was to the Wolves in 2009 (19-7). The T-Birds have since won four straight in the city series.
Black Hills, which was eliminated from postseason contention earlier in the year, fell to 4-5 overall and 2-4 in conference games.
Tumwater's defense set the tone early, getting an interception from Logan Schiendelman on the Wolves first series.
Cummings, who finished with 109 yards on 14 carries, put the T-Birds on the scoreboard the very next play, scampering 23 yards for a score.
"The coaches tell us before every game to visualize scoring on the first play of the game," Cummings said. "The line opened everything up for me and I was able to bust it open. It all starts with our defense though. They create so much for our offense. I'm glad I don't have to play against that defense."
The senior running back also added two short rushing TDs, helping Tumwater race out to a commanding 42-6 lead at the half.
Tumwater's defense forced three turnovers, four sacks and got a 10-yard fumble return for a score from Garrett Terrell in the first half en route to the T-Birds lopsided lead at the intermission.
The Wolves answered Tumwater's first touchdown on Jayden Troy's 10-yard scoring strike to Gabe Adamson 2 1/2 minutes into the contest which pulled Black Hills within a point at 7-6.
The play was set up by Troy's 74-yard pass to Mitch Stone.
It was all Tumwater from there as the T-Birds, which also received a 1-yard TD run Nick Foerstel in the first half, scored the game's next 35 points.
Black Hills got a 24-yard field goal from Luke Taylor in the third quarter and two rushing TDs (8 and 21 yards) from Cooper Nygren in the fourth.
Tumwater, state runner-up last year and state champion in 2010 at the 2A classification, will host the third-place team out of the 2A Greater Saint Helens League in a state preliminary round next week with the winner advancing to the round of 16.
The T-Birds first undefeated regular season came in 1986 – kicking off Tumwater's remarkable run over the last quarter century.
The team posted undefeated regular seasons eight times between 1986 and 1996 – a year before Black Hills opened splitting the school in half.
Additional undefeated regular seasons for Tumwater occurred in 2000, 2001 and 2002.