The Tornados and T-Birds face off on the gridiron Thursday night at Tumwater. Yelm lost the lead early in the second half, ultimately losing the game, 54-27.

What started out as a beautiful night at Sid Otton Field quickly turned dark as lightning rolled into the area and eventually brought the game to a halt.

When all was said and done, the Tumwater Thunderbirds (2-0) would come away with a 54-27 win over the visiting Yelm Tornados (0-2).

Here are four thoughts from the game…


Yelm’s defense piles on senior running back Dylan Paine of Tumwater during a Thursday night non-league matchup.

1. Tumwater Is Tumwater

While it took them a little time to get going, eventually the Tumwater Thunderbirds offense took over and ran wild in the second half.

The first half saw Tumwater spend a lot of time in the shotgun, while the second half saw almost exclusively under center in the Wing-T we are accustomed to seeing.

Running back Dylan Paine missed the final seven games of last season with a knee injury, but looks like he's back to full health and ready to carry a heavy load. Another back I really liked was Jack Jones. While he may not have the name recognition like Paine, Jones had a few big runs and generally was able to find space every time he touched the ball.

There is a ton of talent and size (see below). This Tumwater team could surprise some people.

Looking over their schedule you will find a couple big programs in Bellarmine Prep and Clackamas (Oregon), but there isn't a game I see that Tumwater can't win, and should likely be the favorite just about every week.

2. War In The Trenches

This was one of the most physical games I have seen in a while and it is thanks to some mean big bodies on the inside.

Tumwater had two standout linemen that college coaches need to know in Viliami Hafoka and Jacob Schuster, while Yelm countered with Bradley McGannon and Dylan Jemtegaard.


Yelm QB Ben Hoffman, right, runs the ball Thursday night during a non-league matchup against the Tumwater Thunderbirds.

Hafoka has offers from Northern Colorado and Central Washington, and it wouldn't surprise me if he added to that list once he sends out his early season highlights. Schuster received all kinds of post season awards last year as a sophomore, and has carried that momentum into a great start to the 2019 season.

McGannon, a senior, has an offer from Division II Simon Fraser and is seeing Division I interest. The first four weeks are huge for film, and McGannon appears to be putting together some good tape. He plays both ways for the Tornados, but projects highest on the defensive side.

Jemtegaard is an athlete I was really looking forward to seeing, and frankly, he didn't disappoint. At 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, Jemtegaard probably projects best inside at guard or center, but plays tackle for his team. The ceiling is high, as Jemtegaard is just a junior.

3. Yelm Is A Sleeper In The SSC

There is a lot to like about this Yelm football team.

I don't think there is a clear cut favorite in the South Sound Conference, or if there is I missed it, and this Yelm team is a resilient bunch.

Senior QB Benjamin Hoffmann (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) might not blow you away when he steps on the field, but once the ball is snapped, Hoffmann is a gamer. The coaching staff did a great job mixing the run and pass, including some very effective read option stuff where Hoffmann kept it and took off outside.

I really like Hoffmann's chemistry with his receivers, especially senior Sylas Franklin, who seemed to be open just about any time Yelm needed a play.

Lastly, I loved the play of linebacker Sean Rohwedder. While he is undersized at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, Rohwedder seemed like he was always around the ball making plays.

4. Another Otton Grandson?

I will start this by saying this isn't a major hyping of an athlete, so pump the brakes a little, but the 2022 recruiting class has another Otton, and he looks a lot like the last Otton.

Ryan Otton is listed at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds. While he has similar size to older brother Cade Otton (Washington Huskies), he does play a little different game. Ryan lines up at defensive end and tight end, while Cade was a middle linebacker and tight end.

While he has the size and athleticism, only time will tell how he develops, but as a longtime football junkie, it warms my heart to look at the Tumwater roster and see No. 10 Otton.


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