Members of this year’s White River High football team will remember posting eight victories, a district win and a triumph in the opening round of the state playoffs that propelled them into the Class 2A’s Elite Eight.
They will most likely try to forget how the season came to a crushing close.
On a frigid Saturday afternoon at Orting Stadium, the Hornets fell to powerful Tumwater 45-7 to see their 2013 campaign come to an abrupt halt.
Kicking things off at 4 p.m. Nov. 23, White River had already managed something no Hornet team had done since 2004 – simply making the state playoffs.
And, on the team’s first possession, White River gave its vocal fans even more to cheer about. After taking advantage of a Tumwater red-zone fumble, the Hornets put together an 87-yard drive that chewed up 87 yards and was capped when Keenan Fagan burst into the end zone from a yard out. Alex Morris tacked on the extra-point and Tumwater found itself trailing for the first time this postseason.
Unfortunately for White River and the Hornet faithful, there was little more to celebrate.
Top-ranked teams tend to respond to adversity and Tumwater posted two touchdowns to take a 14-7 lead into halftime. But the Thunderbirds were just getting started.
Tumwater scored on its first possession of the second half – a pass to Griffin Shea - and quickly regained possession following a Hornet fumble. One play later, the Thunderbirds were again in the end zone, thanks to a 33-yard run by Easton Trakel.
Adding 14 points in 22 seconds pushed Tumwater’s lead to 28-7 and the rout was on. The Thunderbirds put 10 more on the board before the third quarter expired.
During the fateful second half, White River punted three times and lost three fumbles.
While the Hornets stow away their gear and put the finishing touches on an 8-4 season, Tumwater advances to the Class 2A quarterfinals for the second year in a row. The Thunderbirds will head across the Cascades to face the Prosser Mustangs in a Final Four pairing.