TUMWATER - Sehome's quarterback, Daniel Ziegler, has grown accustomed to using his legs to keep the Mariners in games.
Against Tumwater in the first round of the Class 1A State Football Championships, Ziegler was using his legs to stay alive.
"They really gave not just me, but our whole line a tough time," Ziegler said. "They just really got after it, and you could tell they were ready for us this week."
Despite the senior quarterbacks' illusive ways, Sehome wasn't able to stage the upset against top-ranked Tumwater, losing 52-22 on Saturday, Nov. 16, at Tumwater High School in the opening round of the state football tournament.
The opening play was telling of the type of defense Sehome was going against, as Ziegler took the snap and spanned wide to the right sideline. He was shadowed by three Thunderbirds defenders, and was unable to get outside and brought down for no gain. The Mariners were able to record a first down on the drive off a 10-yard run by tailback Taylor Rapp, but they were forced to punt three plays later.
Sehome may have not quite faced a running attack like the one Tumwater boasts, either, as coming in to its first-round matchup, Thunderbirds tailback Christian Cummings had ran for 25 TDs on the season. It took him only one carry to record number 26, which came on a sweeping run to the left that went for 71 yards.
"I think we came out a little shell-shocked," Sehome coach Bob Norvell said. "It's a big stage, and they've been on it, and we haven't."
Sehome's next possession led to a single first down, but as became custom throughout the night, a 10-yard sack on Ziegler forced the Mariners to punt from their own 23.
In a nearly-identical run to the right, Cummings tip-toed along the right sideline and was nearing and easy touchdown but fumbled the ball on Sehome's 3-yard line. Clearly it wasn't supposed to be the Mariners' night, though, and Tumwater's Dayton Newell recovered the ball in the end zone for a 14-0 Tumwater lead in the first.
Sehome wouldn't take long to answer, as Ziegler hit Rapp down the seam for an 81-yard touchdown reception as the sophomore back snuck down the middle uncovered and out ran Tumwater defenders for the score.
After the two teams traded three-and-outs, Tumwater returned the ball to Sehome's 38 where it went on a seven-play drive that was capped by a 12-yard touchdown run by Tyrus Snow. Snow took the handoff, planted and ran to the right where he cut the ball back up field, shedding two tacklers for his first TD of the day.
It wouldn't be his last.
Before the end of the half, Snow would strike again, this time for a 48-yard touchdown run. It came on a first-and-10 where he took the handoff, hesitated and followed his center up the middle of the field. He proceeded to cut the ball to the left, shedding three Sehome tacklers en route to the easy touchdown and a 28-6 lead.
After a good Sehome punt pinned Tumwater on its own 3-yard line, the Mariners' defensive line flushed the Thunderbirds' quarterback, Jayden Croft, in to an intentional grounding call that is by rule a safety if committed in the end zone.
Sehome tried to mount a run in the final moments of the second, but Ziegler was picked off by Gabe Gleizes with less than a minute remaining. The Thunderbirds ran out the clock and took the 28-8 lead in to the half.
Coming out of half, Tumwater's Wing-T offense started to wear down Sehome's front line.
The Thunderbirds orchestrated a six-play, 43-yard drive, running the ball five times ending in Snow's third touchdown.
"We've had problems with the Wing-T throughout the year," said Ziegler, who cited games against both Ferndale and Sedro-Woolley as times where they struggled against that specific offense.
While Tumwater continued to wear down the Mariners' defensive front, Sehome couldn't get its running game going. And even when it did, as was the case when Ziegler got out of the pocket and scrambled for an 80-yard touchdown, something would happen to negate it. In that particular case, a holding penalty was called at Sehome's 48, well behind Ziegler, who shed several tackles en route to the would-be TD.
Rapp, too, had his struggles finding room to operate. He had a few strong runs in the beginning, with his longest being an 11-yard burst up the middle that went for a first down. Other than that, Tumwater's fast offensive line kept both him and Ziegler at bay.
"We were playing hard, but it's just Tumwater," Norvell said. "They just got us."
The passing game for Sehome didn't manage much more, either, although Ziegler did connect with Gunnar Nelson for a 20-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Ziegler threw a back-corner fade for Nelson, who leapt over a Tumwater defender to pull it down.
Sehome's only other points would come off a blocked punt by Tyler Hruby in the fourth. Hruby burst through the Thunderbirds' line to place a hand on the punt. The ball shot up in the air and Hruby gathered it and ran untouched in to the end from 25 yards out.
Despite the lopsided loss to a team with championship aspirations, Sehome making it to the first round of state is something the Mariners won't soon forget.
"I'm just proud of our team, how far we've come," Ziegler said. "It sucks to end like this, even if it ends eventually."
Ziegler finished the game 9 of 19 passing for 167 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for 83 yards on 16 carries.
Snow led Tumwater with 171 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 11 carries. Tumwater totaled 435 rushing in the win.
Sehome 6 2 7 7- 22
Tumwater 14 14 17 7- 52
Tum - Christian Cummings 71 run (Elijah Hill kick)
Tum - Dayton Newell recovery in end zone (Hill kick)
Seh - Taylor Rapp 81 pass from Daniel Ziegler (Kick blocked)
Tum - Tyrus Snow 12 run (Hill kick good)
Tum - Snow 48 run (Hill Kick good)
Seh - Safety
Tum - Snow 38 run (Hill kick)
Tum - Snow 4 run (Hill kick)
Tum - Elijah Hill 19 Field Goal
Seh - Gunnar Nelson 20 pass from Ziegler (Samuel Diehl Kick)
Seh - Tyler Hruby punt block 25 return (Diehl kick)
Tum - Dominic Jones 19 run (Noah Andrews kick)
First downs 16 18
Rushing Att-Yards 34-163 44-435
Comp-Att-Int 9-22-2 3-10-0
Passing yards 167 60
Penalties-yards 10-87 10-95
Fumbles-lost 2-2 4-1
RUSHING - Sehome: Daniel Ziegler 16-83, Taylor Rapp 8-33, Blaise Black 5-33, Gary Vanieperen 2-12, No. 40 1 (-5),Skyler Conner 2-7. Tumwater: Easton Trakel 5-35, Christian Cummings 11-173, Tyrus Snow 11-171, Jayden Croft 5-10, Trevor Davis 5-10, Dominic Jones 3-23, Ian Saner 3-9, Nick Foerstel 1-4.
PASSING - Sehome: Daniel Ziegler 9-19-2-167, Taylor Rapp 0-1-0-0; Gavin Kaepernick 0-2-0-0. Tumwater: Jayden Croft 3-10-60-0.
RECEIVING - Sehome: Gunnar Nelson 2-28, Taylor Rapp 2-80, Luke Lowry-Brye 1-20, Gabriel Weight 2-27, Samuel Diehl 2-12. Tumwater: Easton Trakel 2-49, Griffin Shae 1-11.