The score had long been settled, but the stands stayed full at Tumwater District Stadium.
Tumwater High School, a perennial state powerhouse for the past four decades, lost a football game on Saturday afternoon. Archbishop Murphy, the state’s top-ranked Class 2A team, advanced to the state semifinals with a 48-10 win.
But, that’s not what the crowd was cheering about as time wound down.
“Thank you, Sid!”
That’s what was echoing through the stadium that Sid Otton, Tumwater’s coach for the past 43 seasons, helped build.
“It’s pretty emotional, really, because people appreciate what we’ve done,” Otton said. “It’s a great community, and a lot of former players up there doing that. It was kind of hard to focus on whatever was left in the game.”
Otton capped a 49-year career on Saturday afternoon, that started in Coupeville, traveled to Colfax, and finally landed in Tumwater in 1974.
He retires as the winningest high school football coach in Washington state history, with a stunning career record of 394-131, and six state championships.
Five of those state titles came at Tumwater, most recently in 2010, when the T-Birds topped the Wildcats, 34-14. In 43 years at the school, Otton compiled a 361-112 record and 27 state-playoff appearances.
“He’s kind of the bedrock of our community,” said Tim Otton, Sid’s son, former player, and one of his assistant coaches. “All of these kids come back because of him, and Coach (Pat) Alexander and Coach (Steve) Shoun.
“The lessons they learned here, it’s part of their family too. It sticks with you when you go.”
For a moment, it seemed the T-Birds could stick with Archbishop Murphy, which hadn’t allowed a point in the first half this season until Saturday.
Following back-to-back scores on the Wildcats’ first two drives — a 39-yard field goal by Ryan Henderson, and a 1-yard TD run by Collin Montez — Tumwater responded.
Noah Andrews found Andrew May for a 25-yard TD, capping an 80-yard drive, that made it 10-7.
Then, Nathan Seaman connected on a 26-yard field goal early in the second quarter to even it, before Anfernee Gurley’s 35-yard TD reception from Connor Johnson gave the Wildcats a 17-10 advantage at the break.
“I thought we were right with them,” Sid Otton said. “I thought our defense certainly played well enough for us to win.”
Tumwater — which was allowing an average of 2.4 yards per carry entering the game —limited Archbishop Murphy to 15 rushing yards in the first half, and allowed 3.5 yards per carry by the game’s end.
“Everyone played hard,” Tumwater senior Cade Otton said. “It’s not for lack of effort. I’m super proud of these guys, and I’m glad I got to go out with my brothers.”
The game started to unravel for the T-Birds in the third quarter.
Andrews, Tumwater’s quarterback, played limited snaps in the second half, after injuring his right bicep early on, and didn’t throw a pass in the second half.
The Wildcats (12-0) capitalized quickly, scoring five consecutive times in the second half to seal it.
Kyler Gordon (41 yards) and Montez (97) each returned interceptions for scores. Henderson added another 20-yard field goal in the fourth, and Emmanual Osuoha tacked on TD runs of 13 and 35 yards.
Tumwater (10-2) was held scoreless in the second half, and limited to 241 total yards on offense — far below its season average of 388.2. Jakob Holbrook led the T-Birds with 18 carries for 123 yards.
“What an honor to come here,” Archbishop Murphy coach Jerry Jensen said. “I told (Sid Otton) last year when we were at the (Tacoma) Dome that it was an honor to coach against him. I told him that again today. … He’s just a great guy and he’s done great things for this community.”
There were many hugs and thank you’s offered to Sid Otton after time expired. His grandson, Cade, a University of Washington commit, embraced him on the sideline.
“Just doing this one last time, it’s going to be a lot different after this — not being close to Tumwater High School,” Cade Otton said. “And same with my grandpa. This has been my life.”
His, his father’s, his grandfather’s and the rest of the Otton family’s life for the past 49 years.
“Even from his first years at Coupeville, and four years at Colfax, and then here, it’s always felt like a family thing,” said Marjean Otton, Sid’s wife.
Current and former players, family members and community members continued to flow onto the field long after the final horn to congratulate Sid Otton, and Shoun, and Alexander, who also retire this season.
“It comes time,” Sid Otton said. “Somebody else’s turn. The bulk of the coaches will be coming back, and there are good players coming back, coming through the program. It will be fun to keep watching them.”
Perhaps from the stands with his wife, as the next generation of Tumwater football begins. But, regardless of where in this stadium Sid Otton chooses to watch from next, the legacy he’s left on the field won’t be forgotten.
“It’s been a tremendous ride,” he said.
No. 1 Archbishop Murphy
No. 2 Tumwater
A – Ryan Henderson 39 field goal
A – Collin Montez 1 run (Henderson kick)
T – Andrew May 25 pass from Noah Andrews (Nathan Seaman kick)
T – Seaman 26 field goal
A – Anfernee Gurley 35 pass from Connor Johnson (Henderson kick)
A – Kyler Gordon 41 interception return (Henderson kick)
A – Collin Montez 97 interception return (Henderson kick)
A – Henderson 20 field goal
A – Emmanual Osuoha 13 run (Henderson kick)
A – Osuoha 35 run (Henderson kick)