Coaches will be the first ones to tell you that it’s the players who get you to a championship game.
But to keep over 50 players healthy, motivated and out of trouble through a nine- or 10-game regular season and through the playoffs is no small feat.
Fortunately, the coaches leading their teams into Saturday’s Class 2A (10 a.m.) and 1A (1 p.m.) championship games at the Tacoma Dome are well acquainted with every detail of getting teams through the state playoffs, not to mention any other aspect of high school football.
Between Tumwater’s Sid Otton, Royal’s Wiley Allred and King’s Jim Shapiro, there will be 79 seasons and 929 games of head coaching experience on the sidelines while their teams do battle.
Of course, Otton is at the head of the class in terms of experience. In fact, the 72-year-old Otton has more losses in his career (129) than most coaches will ever have games. Oh, and he has plenty of those, too — 384 through 43 seasons, enough to make him the winningest football coach in state history.
First-year Prosser coach Corey Ingvalson would have to coach 42 more seasons, averaging nine wins per season, to come close to Sid Otton’s victory total.
To put those numbers in perspective, first-year Prosser coach Corey Ingvalson would have to coach 42 more seasons, averaging nine wins per season, to come close to Otton’s victory total.
Otton, who seeking his sixth state title, will be one of three generations of his bloodline on the Tacoma Dome floor against Prosser — his son Tim is an assistant coach, and his grandson Cade is one of Tumwater’s top players.
Allred, who in 2013 was named the top high school coach in Washington in USA Today’s “Best Of” contest series, is also seeking his sixth state title. Allred’s winning percentage of .882 (187-25) is second only to Bellevue’s Butch Goncharoff (196-14, .933) among Washington coaches with at least 15 years of experience.
“I get a lot of help,” Allred, 55, said humbly.
Shapiro, 43, was named King’s head coach 19 years ago at age 24 and hasn’t taken his foot off the pedal yet. He’s still looking for his first state title — this is his team’s first-ever appearance in a state title game — but he has 124 wins to his credit, good enough to put him just outside the top 100 in all-time coaching victories in Washington.
Finally, there’s Ingvalson, who can’t match the coaching resume of his Tacoma Dome peers quite yet. But he didn’t take long to gain the respect of his players.
“Since he’s a former (Prosser) player, he knows what we’re feeling. He gets us pumped up for every situation,” Prosser senior lineman Riley Lusk said. “He’s the greatest coach you could ask for.”
Class 2A championship
Prosser Mustangs (12-1) vs. Tumwater Thunderbirds (13-0)
When: 10 a.m. Saturday
Radio/TV: Buffalo Country Radio (online)/NFHS Network (online).
Coaches: Prosser — Corey Ingvalson (12-1,.920, first season). Tumwater — Sid Otton (384-129, .749, 43 seasons).
Last state appearance: Prosser 2014 (lost to Ellensburg 34-20 in Class 2A quarterfinals); Tumwater 2014 (lost to Sedro-Woolley 28-27 in Class 2A championship).
Road to finals: Prosser — def. Clarkston 14-0 in first round; def. Ellensburg 31-0 in quarterfinals; def. Sedro-Woolley 33-21 in semifinals. Tumwater — def. Franklin Pierce 55-14 in first round; def. Squalicum 38-21 in quarterfinals; def. Archbishop Murphy 24-21 in semifinals.
State playoff history (before 2015): Prosser 46-23 in 27 appearances (best finish: 1968 AA state champions (by statewide vote); 1992 AA championship, beat O’Dea 26-0; 1993 AA championship, beat Gig Harbor 22-20; 1999 Class 3A championship, beat Sammamish 42-38; 2007 Class 3A championship, beat Burlington-Edison 42-7). Tumwater 43-20 in 25 appearances (best finish: 1987 AA championship, beat West Valley-Yakima 21-14; 1989 AA championship, beat Cheney 27-7; 1990 AA championship, beat Mount Rainier 32-17; 1993 AA championship, beat Inglemoor 33-7; 2010 2A championship, beat Archbishop Murphy 34-14).
Top players: Prosser — QB Tanner Bolt (197-317-12-3,014, 40 TDs); RB Michael Kernan (88-586, 12 TDs rush); RB J.R. Coleman (63-386, 7 TDs rush); WR Kason Blair (41-701, 9 TDs rec); WR/K Javier Diaz (38-689, 8 TDs rec); WR Roy Borrego (24-548, 9 TDs rec); LB Thomas Neimeyer, OL/DL Riley Lusk. Tumwater — RB Jarid Barrett (163-1,003, 18 TDs); RB Dominic Jones (105-972, 11 TDs); WR/LB Cade Otton (25-477, 9 TDs rec); QB Spencer Dowers; CB/WR Jacob Crawford; DL Devon Shedd-Kirkland.
Quick facts: Tumwater finished the season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll, getting all 12 first-place votes. Prosser finished fifth behind CWAC champion Ellensburg. ... The two teams have faced each other four times in the state playoffs before, splitting them 2-2. Prosser won in 1992 and 1999 on the way to winning state titles, while Tumwater has won the last two meetings — both semifinal matchups in 2012 and 2013. ... Otton is Washington’s all-time career leader in coaching victories, has won five state titles and been nationally ranked four times. Invgalson, a Mustangs graduate, helped another legendary Washington high school coach, Tom Moore, win a state title in 1999.
Class 1A championship
King’s Knights (12-1) vs. Royal Knights (13-0)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
TV: NFHS Network (online).
Coaches: King’s — Jim Shapiro (124-80, .608, 19 seasons). Royal — Wiley Allred (187-25, .882,17 seasons).
Last state appearance: King’s 2014 (lost to Cascade Christian 56-15 in Class 1A quarterfinals); Royal 2014 (lost to Colville 28-10 in Class 1A quarterfinals).
Road to finals: King’s — def. Port Townsend 24-7 in first round; def. Hoquiam 42-21 in quarterfinals; def. Montesano 28-25 in semifinals. Royal — def. Charles Wright Academy 69-0 in first round; def. Colville 21-7 in quarterfinals; def. Connell 47-7 in semifinals.
State playoff history (before 2015): King’s 9-15 in 15 appearances (best finish: lost in quarterfinals 1986, 1989, 2002, 2009-14); Royal 39-20 in 25 appearances (best finish: 1996, Class 1A championship, beat Toledo 70-0; 2000, Class 1A championship, beat Tacoma Baptist 49-17; 2004, Class 1A championship, beat Freeman 29-7; 2005, Class 1A championship, beat Tonasket 34-14; 2008, Class 1A championship, beat Connell 28-16).
Top players: King’s — RB Caleb Perry (135-1,024, 13 TDs rush); RB Andrew Cline (1,068 yds, 9 TDs rush); WR/DB Jake Welch; OL Chris Metzger; TE Edmund Sundquist; LB Cooper Wright; K Jack Van Dyke; DL Taylor Schoenfeld, DL Duncan Cull. Royal — QB Kaden Jenks (129-202-2-2,550, 45 TDs); RB/DB Joe Lang (117-1,141, 18 TDs rushing; 24-387, 6 TDs receiving); RB Danny Cuevas (68-526, 11 TDs rush); WR/DB Sam Christensen (36-676, 14 TDs receiving); WR/K Jose Ponce (31-755, 12 TDs rec; 74 XP); OL Valente Cortez; OL Hunter Follett; DL Sawyer Stakkeland; DL Juan Hernandez.
Quick facts: Royal finished first in the AP rankings, receiving all 12 first-place votes. King’s finished third in the voting behind Connell. ... Royal has made state in each of the last 16 seasons dating back to 2000, while this will be King’s seventh consecutive appearance. ... LB Cooper Wright was the Class 1A Cascade Conference defensive MVP this season for King’s, while QB Kaden Jenks was the SCAC East’s offensive MVP. .... King’s running backs piled up 2,228 yards and 29 TDs during 10 regular season games. ... Jenks was named one of the inaugural Northwest 9 after competing in a camp designed to showcase some of the top quarterbacks in the Pacific Northwest, and could start getting some D-1 looks.