The 2A Tumwater Thunderbirds have one of the most successful football programs in state history under long time Head Coach Sid Otton. Otton holds the mark for the most wins in Washington State history at 384 and still counting. The Bellevue Wolverines are also one of the most winningest teams in state history although under severe scrutiny right now do to an investigation into the practices of the football team. The WIAA just concluded a fact finding investigation that indicates Bellevue is in violation of 4 of the 5 accusations against them. (For more on the Bellevue story, Click Here) The 2 teams will finally face off over the next 2 seasons in a home and home non-league schedule with Tumwater at Bellevue in 2016.
Tumwater Athletic Director Tim Graham says the decision was made to play Bellevue by the coaches and players. Graham says after 2 years of having only 3 league games and having to fill 6 non-league openings this season they will have 1 more league game and 5 non-league but no one wanted to have to travel the distance they did the past 2 seasons with games in Yakima and Idaho just to fill the schedule.
Graham says they had reached out to several other schools but were turned down. Graham can only speculate that teams especially in higher classifications wanted to avoid playing the T-Birds because of their past and recent success. When Bellevue had an opening Graham says he had contacted two other schools but was turned down and so it came down to Bellevue or going back to Idaho. Graham says the coaches were looking to avoid the long trip but the players wanted the challenge of taking on a program like Bellevue.
The schedule was agreed too prior to the investigation into the Bellevue program had been announced. Graham says regardless of the outcome of the actions that may be taken against Bellevue it does not impact the schedule. Graham says this is not like the NCAA where they could impose a death penalty like the SMU program and that regardless of any punishment or sanctions that may be handed down they will have a team and Tumwater will be playing them over the next 2 years.
Graham has also increased the competition in their non-league opponents including 4A power from the GSHL 4A Union. Tumwater had played 1A LaCenter the past 2 seasons and Graham appreciated the willingness of the Wildcats to take on Tumwater but they did struggle against the T-Birds.
Tumwater will not face any 1A schools this season and open with Franklin Pierce then get Columbia River who drops down to the 2A GSHL so there is a chance the 2 teams could meet in the cross-over games in week 10. In week 3 it’s Bellevue followed by Union and Steilacoom. Every team they face in non-league all advanced to the play-offs last season. Their league schedule is Centralia, Aberdeen, Black Hills and in the final week WF West.
The T-Birds and Rochester Warriors will play only 4 league games while the other 4 teams will play 5. Rochester and Tumwater have agreed not to play each other because of the gap between the 2 programs and Graham and Rochester AD Jerry Streigal agreed it was not worth it to play while the gap is this large.
Rochester could still make the post-season as the league only counts wins. The 1st tie-breaker is head-to-head so if another team finishes 4-1 and Tumwater is 4-0 Tumwater gets it because they would have beaten the other team. if both Rochester and Tumwater finish 4-0 it is agreed that the T-Birds would get the tie-breaker. If Rochester finishes 2-2 and another team finished 2-3 that would be considered a tie and go to head-to-head for the tie-breaker.
Graham says although not perfect he is pleased the Evco 2A is back to at least 6 teams and has reduced the stress of not only finding games to fill a big hole in the schedules but allows them to find a more competitive schedule as well.