WIAA 2A football championship preview: Legacy rivals Tumwater, Lynden take center stage in Puyallup

Top-ranked Tumwater is on its own level of state-championship legacy. The Thunderbirds are the only program to ever win state titles in the three biggest WIAA classifications.

And many think coach Bill Beattie’s group is the overwhelming favorite to defend its Class 2A title this weekend in Puyallup.

So, what is the best way to combat that kind of dominance?

Pit them against a career-achievement equal – a program such as eight-time state champion Lynden.

That matchup will be taking place Saturday afternoon at Sparks Stadium.

“We are the king of everybody else – and now we get to go hunting,” Lynden coach Blake VanDalen said.

Make no mistake, there is a healthy respect between these two powerhouse programs – mainly because the foundational principles, from the ground up, are so strikingly similar.

“I don’t know the whole history with them, but when you talk about 2A football in the last 10 to 20 years, Lynden is one of the first teams you mention – if not the first one you should,” Beattie said.

Lynden is also the last 2A team to topple the Thunderbirds – 28-27 in the 2018 state quarterfinals.

“They like to play great defense, run the ball – those kinds of things that are very similar to things we believe,” Beattie said.

Yet, as entrenched as both schools are in the 2A state landscape, they had some growing up to do this fall. Both had 15 new starters on both sides of the ball.

That was a reason why VanDalen reached out to Beattie to see if a summer scrimmage between the two teams could take place, which it did in July in Tumwater.

“We have a healthy rivalry, and a mutual respect for each other,” VanDalen said. “And we always seem to find a way to play each other.”

CLASS 2A CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW

NO. 2 SEED LYNDEN LIONS (11-1) vs. NO. 1 SEED TUMWATER THUNDERBIRDS (10-2)

4 p.m. Saturday at Sparks Stadium, Puyallup

Coaches: Blake VanDalen is in his fifth season at Lynden (40-13 record). Bill Beattie is in his fifth season at Kalama (49-7 record).

WIAA championship history: Lynden won the 1A title in 1980 and 1991, and 2A titles in 2006, 2008-09 and 2011-13. Tumwater won the 3A title in 1987 and 1989-90, 4A title in 1993 and 2A titles in 2010 and 2019.

Road to 2021 Gridiron Classic: Second-seeded Lynden defeated No. 15 seed Fife in the first round (34-0), No. 7 seed Prosser in the quarterfinals (54-20) and No. 3 seed North Kitsap in the semifinals (15-10). Top-seeded Tumwater defeated No. 16 seed East Valley of Spokane in the first round (56-7), No. 9 seed Enumclaw in the quarterfinals (55-21) and No. 4 seed Squalicum in the semifinals (14-3).

Statistical leaders: For Lynden – QB Kaedan Hermanutz (84-151, 1,271 yards, 19 TDs; 103 carries, 520 yards, seven TDs), RB Lane Heeringa (188 carries, 1,009 yards, eight TDs), WR Kaleo Jandoc (22 catches, 585 yards, 10 TDs) and LB Taivin VanDalen (116 tackles, five TFL). For Tumwater – QB Alex Overbay (36-65, 670 yards, seven TDs), RB Peyton Hoyt (132 carries, 1,113 yards, 26 total TDs), RB Carlos Matheney (142 carries, 1,050 yards, 15 TDs), WR Seth Weller (23 catches, 469 yards, six TDs) and LB Caleb Sadlemyer (79 tackles, 11 TFL).

Tickets: $16 for adults, and $12 for students and senior citizens.

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