When Tumwater (Wash.) High wrapped up its first state title in 17 years, knocking off Archbishop Murphy (Wash.) in Saturday's Class 2A state title game, 34-14, coach Sid Otton stood on the sidelines with a smile. Like all of the longtime coach's five state titles, most of that smile came from the satisfaction that comes from a long campaign at its ultimate end, but this time there was a bit more to it.
In fact, Otton can be excused if he was suffering from a bit of deja vu, even if he hadn't won a state title since 1993. That's because this team has a lot in common with his past squads. According to the Tacoma News Tribune, this season, Tumwater fielded 11 varsity players who were the sons of former Tumwater players, all of whom have fathers who also played under Otton.
"We have a saying, it's ‘Tradition never graduates,'" Otton told the Tacoma News Tribune. "There's a strong T-Bird tradition here. It's a neat thing."
Among Tumwater's familial links are the Hargraves, father Greg and son Easton, both of whom were defensive linemen. Greg Hargrave was an all-state defensive tackle for Otton at Tumwater in 1982, and his son picked up where he left off in 2010, earning all-league recognition for his performance on the defensive line.
The younger Hargrave said he was thrilled he and his father could have such similar experiences, both for his own football career and the bond it's helped build between them.
"He doesn't talk about what he did," Easton Hargrave, whose younger brother Trevor is also a varsity lineman for Tumwater, told The News Tribune. "He's pretty modest. But he'll talk about Tumwater football.
"It's a great school, a great tradition. I'm glad I've gotten a chance to play for the same team, for the same coach as my dad did. It's a great experience."
As eerie as the similarities between the two Hargraves are, the fathers of two Tumwater players had an even more vested interest in the Thunderbirds' success, for good reason; they're now Tumwater assistant coaches.
One of those assistants is Tony Prentice, a player for Otton in the mid-'80s whose son Riley was a two-way starter as a junior in 2010. The other assistant, Rob Hinkle, had one-up on Prentice, with his twin sons Daniel and Brennen both being Tumwater contributors.
"The lessons I learned from Sid are lessons I wanted my sons to learn," Tony Prentice told The News Tribune. "It's an exceptional opportunity for both my older boys to be part of the T-Bird family.
"They're hearing the same messages and lessons I heard," Prentice said. "They're good messages. No reason to change them. I think our community is better off for it."
Of course, Otton is the last person to be surprised by the rise of both the elder Prentices and Hinkles to his coaching staff. The Washington coaching legend once led his own sons, one of whom -- Tim Otton -- is now a Tumwater assistant himself.
While having such assistants might seem to be a bit incestuous, it's hard to argue with Tumwater's results. The only question is whether Otton will win another title with this generation, or if he'll be busy shepherding in another crop of sons of his former stars the next time he feels the pangs of deja vu on an early December afternoon.