All season long, Prosser High School football coach Corey Ingvalson preached the value of winning ugly.
Saturday’s 22-15 win over Tumwater in the Class 2A state championship game was as ugly as it gets.
The result, of course, is a mighty pretty thing that will be remembered for generations.
“Anytime you win state, you look back at what you were able to accomplish,” said Ingvalson, who won state as a Prosser player in 1999. “It was tremendous in 1999 because I did it with the people I grew up with. This year, we faced some adversity early. We talked about getting to Tacoma, and we got there last week.
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“To win makes it all the better.”
The Mustangs (13-1) faced some serious adversity against the Thunderbirds despite never trailing.
In the end, it was a pair of Prosser defenders — junior linebacker Kolby Swift and senior defensive lineman Riley Lusk — who reminded everyone that football heroes don’t always come in the form of a running back or a quarterback, and game-winning plays aren’t always finished in the end zone.
Leading 22-15 with 1:09 remaining, Prosser fumbled a snap and gave Tumwater first-and-10 from the Mustangs’ 37, setting up a potential tying score.
The T-birds (13-1) took six plays to advance to the Prosser 10. On second and goal, Swift rushed in hard off the left edge, forcing quarterback Spencer Dowers inside. Swift took a hard swipe at the ball and jarred it loose.
“I was praying to God I would actually get that ball. Thank God I got it,” Swift said. “I got up and saw a ruckus going on.”
That ruckus was Lusk recovering the ball and taking a beating for it.
“I just remember trying to get a pass rush the last few downs because they were slinging the ball, trying to get it to their playmakers,” Lusk said. “I saw the ball pop up, and I grabbed it. I fumbled it but got it again before going down. I had the biggest grip on that ball.
“I got punched, I got kicked. I don’t know what was going on, but I survived. We got the ball and the win.”
Prosser started out strong. After the Mustangs took a 15-0 lead in the second quarter on Tanner Bolt touchdown passes to Swift and Kason Blair, Tumwater scrapped back with a 42-yard scoring pass from Noah Andrews to Easton Trakel.
The Mustangs finished the first half on a strong note, too. They went on an 11-play, 80-yard drive, capped by Bolt’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Noah Flores to make it 22-8.
“Our motto is we always want to have the first score of every half and the last one. If we do that, we have a good chance to win,” Blair said after catching three passes for 64 yards. “There were so many emotions going on in that last drive. We tried to keep doubt out of it at all times. After that last giveaway, we just had to trust our defense like we have all year.”
Bolt completed 21 of 35 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns. One of his favorite targets on the day was Roy Borrego, who had eight catches for 91 yards.
“They just spread you apart and play basketball,” Tumwater coach Sid Otton said. “I expected a tight finish, but you always expect to have one more point than they do. I’m happy we had the opportunity to get here. Hats off to those guys for winning.”
P — Kolby Swift 1 pass from Tanner Bolt (J.R. Coleman pass from Logan Hamlin)
P — Kason Blair 30 pass from Bolt (Ricardo Herrera kick)
T — Easton Trakel 42 pass from Noah Andrews (Cade Otton pass from Spencer Dowers)
P — Noah Flores 10 pass from Bolt (Herrera kick)
T — Jarid Barrett 3 run (Nathan Seaman kick)
RUSHING — P, Michael Kernan 21-87, Flores 7-16, Coleman 6-17, team 1-0. T, Andrews 13-96, Dominic Jones 8-77, Barrett 9-25, Trakel 1-5.
PASSING — P, Bolt 21-35-1-280, Blair 0-1-0-0. T, Dowers 5-13-1-56, Andrews 2-7-3-53.
RECEIVING — P, Roy Borrego 8-91, Blair 3-64, Kernan 2-55, Javier Diaz 2-19. T, Otton 3-27, Trakel 2-47, Andrews 2-35.
FIRST DOWNS — P 21, T 12. FUMBLES-LOST — P 1-1, T 1-1. PENALTIES — P 6-30, T 6-80.