Tumwater's Cummings makes big plays routine

MCCLATCHYDecember 3, 2013 

There have been many moments this season when Christian Cummings has been running around, through and away from opponents, that have made his Tumwater High School teammates flash back to their youth football days.

"It's sixth grade all over again," two-way senior lineman Korye Trejo said. "It's fun to watch."

It has been that kind of season for Cummings, who has dominated at running back and made it look easy.

With 30 touchdowns (28 rushing) and 2,038 all-purpose yards (1,700 rushing), the senior is closing in on a school record entering Saturday's 10 p.m. Class 2A state championghip game against Lynden at the Tacoma Dome.

He needs three touchdowns to break Kyle Warner's single-season record of 32 set in 2010, the year the T-Birds won their fifth state title.

Longtime coach Sid Otton has coached great running backs at Tumwater, including Kevin Clark, Derek Lowe and Anthony Hicks, who were featured runners on dominant T-Birds teams in the 1990s.

Otton considers Cummings one of the best running backs to have played at Tumwater. He said Cummings, who averages 9.6 yards per carry, finds open seams and bursts through them, and he rarely goes down for a short gain.

"Sometimes, a back will run into a defender and the legs stop, it's over," Otton said. "But he keeps going."

Cummings will face the difficult task of going against a Lynden defense that has limited opposing running backs to 3.5 yards per carry this season.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Cummings said there's really no secret to his success. It's just playing with emotion and playing fast.

"With football," Cummings said, "I take everything off my mind ... and run as hard as I can."

There's more to Cummings than his power and quickness.

This season, thanks to "a big 180 (degree)" attitude change, he has emerged as one of the team's senior leaders. He also was selected as a postseason captain.

"A lot of young kids look up to me," Cummings said. "I didn't notice how much people look up to me until this year."

During his career, he has compiled a string of memorable big plays.

In September against Timberline, the T-Birds were backed up at their 6-yard line. Cummings took a handoff and looked as if he would gain 5 yards, but he sprinted through the defenders and scored on a 94-yard run.

"You didn't think something was going to happen out of it," Trejo said, "and you turn around and look, and he's halfway down the field."

Another Cummings play that stands out among teammates happened last year against W.F. West.

It was a simple screen pass on a third-and-long play. Cummings made the catch, and a group of defenders descended on him. Incredibly, he burst from the pile and turned a small gain into a 35-yard touchdown.

"We expect it to happen," senior defensive back Gabe Gleizes said. "We practice with him every day, and we know what he's capable of."

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