The Blazers, champions of the 3A South Sound Conference, lost at perennial powerhouse Bellevue, 42-7, on November 18 to finish their incredible season with a record of 11-1.
The Thunderbirds improved to 10-2 by defeating Steilacoom, 23-13, in Lakewood on November 17. It was Tumwater’s eighth consecutive victory. The T-Birds advance to play defending 2A state champion Archbishop Murphy in the semifinals on November 25 at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. Game time is set for 12:00 p.m.
Timberline, playing in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006, fell to a familiar foe as it marked the third time since 2003 the Wolverines ended the Blazers’ season in the second round of the state playoffs.
Bellevue, which had to vacate two state titles and suffered a postseason ban last year due to recruiting violations, also stopped Timberline in the round of eight in 2003 (21-14) and 2004 (49-9), as well as defeating the Blazers in the opening round in 2010 (59-14).
Despite the loss, which prevented Timberline from advancing to the state semifinals for the first time since 1975, the Blazers came up with one of their most successful seasons in program history.
Behind a strong defense and balanced offensive attack, Timberline went undefeated in the regular season for the first time since 2009 and claimed their second consecutive 3A SSC crown with a 51-14 drubbing of Peninsula in their regular season finale.
Michael Barnes, who hauled in a 7-yard Hunter Campau touchdown pass to produce the Blazers’ only score against Bellevue, was named South Sound Conference Most Valuable Player. The senior was one of several blazers to earn conference honors
Mason Simeta, who did not play in the state quarterfinals after serving a one-game suspension from being ejected during Timberline’s 26-22 first round victory over defending state champion Kamiakin, was named SSC defensive MVP, while fellow senior Conner Warick earned the conference’s lineman of the year honors.
In addition, Timberline a
lso received first-team all-conference recognition for seniors Lonnie Anderson (running back), Chase Bowes (offensive lineman), Justin Jerenz-Mapu (defensive lineman), Ty Edmond (linebacker) and Tolby Selvester (kicker), and junior Jamin Faalogo (defensive back).
Second-team all-conference selections for the Blazers included juniors Pele Maiva (defensive lineman) and Colton Steepy (defensive back).
Tumwater, champions of the 2A Evergreen Conference, advance to the state semifinals for the 15th time in program history after dispatching 2A South Puget Sound League champion Steilacoom in the quarterfinals.
The T-Birds, who defeated the Sentinels, 48-12, during the regular season, found themselves in a much tighter game in the rematch, needing a 15-run touchdown run from Jakob Holbrook in the third quarter and a late interception by Connor Clark to finally put away Steilacoom.
Tumwater relied on the leg of kicker Nathan Seaman for a second consecutive game as the senior booted a trio of first-half field goals, hitting from 24, 19 and 39 yards, and a short TD run from Dylan Paine to give the T-Birds a 16-7 halftime lead over the Sentinels.
Seaman also hit for three field goals in the Tumwater’s 23-21 victory over Lynden in the first round.
Tumwater is 8-6 all-time in state semifinal games, with its last appearance coming in 2015 when the T-Birds rallied late to knock off Archbishop Murphy, 24-21.
The Wildcats (11-1) got their revenge last year, hammering Tumwater, 48-10, in the quarterfinals before cruising to an undefeated season, defeating Lynden (52-14) in the semifinals and Liberty (56-14) in finals. The 2015 semifinal loss to the T-Birds is the last time Archbishop Murphy lost in the state playoffs, having since won six consecutive games.
This marks the sixth ever meeting between the two schools with Tumwater holding a 3-2 edge. The T-Birds also won 21-0 in the 2012 state quarterfinals and 34-13 in the 2010 championship game, while the Wildcats, who are 6-4 all-time in state semifinal games, drubbed Tumwater, 41-6 in the first round of the 2011 playoffs.
As expected, Tumwater was well represented on the all-2A EvCo team with senior Cy Hicks, who starts on both sides of the line, earning conference most valuable player honors and teammate Aiden Slater being selected as the conference’s defensive MVP.
Additional first-team recipients for the T-Birds were seniors Mathew Lund (offensive lineman), Holbrook (running back), Seaman (kicker), Joseph Pati (defensive lineman), Clark (defensive back) and Ethan Wilmovsky (defensive back); juniors Caden Hicks (offensive lineman), Thomas Drayton (tight end), Mason Burbidge (linebacker) and Jack Prentice (linebacker) and sophomore Paine (running back).