Napavine High School football players learned this week what most Eastern Washington folks already know about Class 2B state title-game opponent Okanogan High School — watch out for middle linebacker Jimmy Townsend.
He’s not just good; he is take-over-a-game dominant.
At 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, Townsend is built like a lineman. And in the Bulldogs’ 3-5 defense, because he is so instinctive and quick to react, he almost stands by himself in between the hash marks before plays start.
“He’s been playing middle linebacker for three years,” Okanogan coach Erick Judd said. “He’s learned to read things so well. We don’t blitz him a whole lot so he can sit back, make the right read and make the tackle.”
If you are trying to remember the name of the last great linebacker to come out of Okanogan, think of Will Derting (1997-2000), a four-time all-league selection who was an all-state player his senior season. Derting went on to play at Washington State University.
It is not a shock that Townsend displays a lot of the same qualities Derting did. They are cousins.
“Will was faster. Jimmy is a little bigger,” Judd said. “When Will did something, he just flew to the football. Jimmy reads things so quickly, it makes up for not being as fast.”
Napavine prides itself in being big and bad, too. The Tigers would be wise to try and get a blocker in Townsend’s way.
That is easier said than done.
“He is a big, strong kid who gets off blocks,” Judd said. “But if they don’t try to, they should.”