2A football: T-Birds’ Trakel knows when to throw switch

mwochnick@theolympian.comDecember 6, 2013 

TUMWATER — Listed at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Easton Trakel doesn’t wow you with his size and stature, but that doesn’t mean the recently turned 16-year-old hasn’t produced jaw-dropping moments for Tumwater High School.

The sophomore has no superpowers, mind you, but he has racked up acrobatic catches against bigger cornerbacks and safeties. Even better, he saves these highlight-reel, Twitter buzz-worthy efforts for crunch time, says offensive coordinator Jamie Weeks.

“He’s not one of those kids that sticks out at practice, per se, all the time,” Weeks said, “but when it comes to game time, he steps it up a notch. He sparks the team.”

Trakel, a wingback in Tumwater’s prolific Wing-T offense, has 1,520 all-purpose yards (623 receiving, 565 rushing, 523 in kickoff returns) and nine touchdowns in 13 games, second to running back Christian Cummings’ 2,038 all-purpose yards, going into Saturday’s 10 a.m. Class 2A football state championship game against Lynden (13-0) at the Tacoma Dome.

That “notch” Weeks refers to has been pushed higher this postseason. In three state playoff games, he has 206 yards rushing and 216 yards receiving, including five catches for 139 yards in a 45-7 quarterfinal win over White River.

His speed, more than strength, does most of the talking.

“You can’t overpower everybody,” Trakel said, “but I try to make it so they can’t catch me.”

Saturday is No.1-ranked Tumwater’s seventh state championship game in school history, all since 1987. The T-Birds (13-0) are 5-1 in state final games.

Many of those teams had an impact sophomore: Scott Gurnsey earned all-state honors as a sophomore safety on Tumwater’s first state title team in 1987; halfback Anthony Hicks, starting alongside Derek Lowe, set an all-time rushing record in 1993; and tackle Jaimie Bryant’s memorable performance in the 2010 state title game against Archbishop Murphy caught the attention of then-Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff.

During last Saturday’s semifinal win over Prosser, Trakel threw a halfback pass to fellow sophomore Griffin Shea, Trakel’s first attempt and completion this season.

The play occurred after Tumwater, leading 24-12, recovered a fumble. Trakel converted that mistake into points on the next play with a 22-yard pass, Shea’s third touchdown of the half.

Tumwater’s sturdy defense has been notable all season, but its offense is dynamic as well, averaging 402 total yards a game. Trakel leads the T-Birds in receiving yards, is third in rushing and was one of three players with 80 or more rushing yards in the semifinal win over Prosser.

“The thing about it (is) you can’t key on one guy and think you’re going to stop our offense because we’re so deep,” Trakel said.

This will be Trakel’s third state title game in a year. As a junior-varsity player last year, he played special teams when Tumwater made a run before losing 41-7 to Lynden in the title game. He was a pinch runner on the Tumwater baseball team that finished second in state in May.

“I want to get a win out of this one,” Trakel said.

No. 1 Lynden (13-0) vs. No. 2 Tumwater (13-0)

10 a.m. Saturday, Tacoma Dome

Coaches: Curt Kramme is in his 23rd season at Lynden (218-53 record). Sid Otton is in his 40th season at Tumwater (326-107).

Road to Gridiron Classic: Lynden defeated Kingston (34-0) in the first round, Sumner (54-21) in the quarterfinals and Ellensburg (21-7) in the semifinals. Tumwater defeated Sehome (52-22) in the first round, White River (45-7) in the quarterfinals and Prosser (45-40) in the semifinals.

About the Lions: Despite graduating 19 seniors from last year’s 2A championship team, here the Lions are once again – playing for a 2A title for the sixth time in eight seasons. Sophomore QB Sterling Somers (75-146, 913 yards, 16 TDs) has been spectacular since taking over for injured starter Lucas Petersen (who has returned to play on defense). Of Lynden’s 26 receiving touchdowns, 17 of them went to either Jalani Phelps or Scooter Hastings, who have combined for 1,467 yards on 88 catches.

About the Thunderbirds: For the third time in four years, the Thunderbirds are in the 2A finals. They were winners in 2010 with a 34-14 victory over Archbishop Murphy. A win Saturday would give the program its first undefeated season since 1990, and a single-season school record for victories (14). Tumwater’s motor starts with its defense, specifically its pass rush led by DE Nick Foerstel (10 sacks). RB Christian Cummings has 2,078 all-purpose yards (1,700 rushing) with 30 touchdowns, and is three TDs from setting the program’s single-season record.

TNT pick: Lynden, 35-28.

Todd Milles and Meg Wochnick, staff writers mwochnick@theolympian.com

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