The top-ranked Wildcats beat the No. 2 Thunderbirds 48-10, ending the career of Tumwater’s legendary coach Sid Otton, who retires as the state’s winnginest football coach.
TUMWATER — The Archbishop Thomas Murphy football team has been thinking about its 24-21 loss to Tumwater in last year’s Class 2A state semifinals for the past 51 weeks.
On Saturday at Tumwater High School, the No. 1-ranked Wildcats avenged that loss in emphatic fashion, defeating No. 2 Tumwater 48-10.
“It was definitely motivation,” Archbishop Murphy coach Jerry Jensen said. “That was something that stuck with them through the offseason. To have the challenge of coming to play them here, the boys really rose up today and played well and I’m super-proud of them.”
Senior wide receiver Anfernee Gurley, who caught seven passes for 110 yards and a touchdown, remembers that loss well.
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“It’s been 51 weeks that it’s been eating away at us,” Gurley said. “It’s been in the back of our minds. Coming into this game that was a huge motivator.”
The Wildcats led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter, but Tumwater fought its way back in the second. A 26-yard field goal by Nathan Seaman and a 25-yard touchdown pass from Noah Andrews to Andrew May had the score tied 10-10 late in the quarter. Gurley’s 35-yard touchdown reception with 3 minutes, 36 seconds to play in the second quarter gave the Wildcats a 17-10 lead at halftime.
The Wildcats asserted their dominance on defense in the third quarter.
Junior Kyler Gordon gave the Wildcats a 14-point lead with a 41-yard interception return with 5:30 to play in the third, but the biggest play belonged to senior Collin Montez.
The Thunderbirds had the ball deep in Wildcats territory threatening to cut the deficit to seven when Montez read quarterback Matthew Brown’s eyes, jumping the receiver’s route for an interception and returning it 97 yards for a touchdown with 1:02 to play in the third quarter.
“I knew they were picking on our second-string guys, so I saw the quarterback give a little peek to the guy on the outside,” Montez said. “They caught me on it a couple of times before and I wasn’t going to let it happen again.”
Instead of a seven-point game, the Wildcats went up 21 with just over a quarter remaining.
“The difference in the game (was) Collin making that pick-six,” Jensen said. “That just kind of broke everything open for us. You could see the momentum change there.”
The Wildcats added 17 more points in the fourth quarter, including two touchdowns by junior running back Emmanuel Osuoha. Osuoha scored on runs of 13 and 35 yards — his only two carries of the game.
The Thunderbirds’ loss ended the career of coach Sid Otton. He is the winningest football coach in state history with a career record of 394-131.
With less than a minute remaining the fans in attendance started a “thank you, Sid” chant to honor his 43 years as the Tumwater coach which included five state championships.
“It’s pretty emotional, really, because people appreciate what we’ve done,” Otton said. “It’s a great community, and (it was) a lot of former players up there doing that. It was kind of hard to focus on whatever was left in the game.”
Gurley was on the winning side, but praised all that Otton has meant to football in the state after the game.
“It’s always an honor to get to play against a team that is so well-coached and a guy that’s so used to winning,” Gurley said. “It’s a blessing that we got to come out with a win against a guy that’s used to winning. What he’s done for Washington football is phenomenal. I’m really proud of him and I thank him a lot.”