TONASKET – With a 55-20 loss, the post-season hopes of the Tonasket football team were ended by the Chelan Goats on Friday, Oct. 22.
In the first quarter, the Goats scored the only points, first with a five-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Michael Amsel, Jr. to junior running back Matt Peterson with 8:21 left in the quarter. The point-after-touchdown attempt from senior kicker Jose Ramirez was no good, giving the Goats a six-point lead. Chelan next scored on a 31-yard run from Peterson with 4:55 left in the quarter. Amsel scored a two-point conversion with a pass to senior running back Robin Weathersby, giving the Goats a 14-point lead going into the second quarter.
The Chelan offense exploded in the second quarter, scoring four times: first on an 8-yard run by Peterson with 10:20 left in the half, then on a 30-yard run by junior wide receiver Cole Schwartz with 8:38 left in the half, then on a 10-yard pass from Amsel to Weathersby with 2:37 left and finally on a nine-yard pass from Amsel to junior wide receiver Matt Robinson with the clock running out for half-time. All four PATs from Ramirez were good, giving the Goats 28-points for the second quarter.
Tonasket scored for the first time of the night on a one-yard run from senior running back Keegan McCormick with 7:11 left in the second quarter. The PAT attempt from junior kicker Lazaro Ortega was no good. Going into half-time, the Goats were up 41-6.
“We were disappointed in our first half play against Chelan,” Jay Hawkins, Tigers head coach, said. “We did not execute on offense and lacked consistency on defense.”
The Tiger defense was able to hold the Goats from scoring in the third quarter until there was 5:17 left in the quarter, when Weathersby scored on a four-yard and Ramirez kicked in another PAT. Tonasket scored for the second time of the night when McCormick stripped the ball from a Goat and then ran it in for a 42-yard touchdown with 1:42 left in the third quarter. With Ortega’s good PAT, The score was 48-13. The final Chelan points came from a 75-yard touchdown run from Schwartz with 33 seconds left in the third quarter accompanied by Ramirez’s good PAT.
The Tigers were the only ones to score in the fourth quarter, when McCormick scored an 11-yard touchdown with 4:41 left in the game. After Ortega’s good PAT, the final score was 55-20.
“We were really pleased at how our team came out and competed in the second half,” Hawkins said. “We were able to play toe-to-toe with them. We found rhythm on offense and made plays defensively. Chelan’s team speed was very difficult to deal with. They certainly are a legitimate league championship team.”
Junior linebacker Mateo Benitez agreed with Hawkins’ assessment of the game, stating the Tiger defense was sloppy in the first half.
“In the second half, we got it together and moved the ball like we should have in the first half,” Benitez said. “We were playing as hard as we could. This is a tough loss to take because it means there’s no chance we can make the playoffs but Chelan is a good team. For us to step up when the score was 41-6 and to hold them to 55 points took a lot of heart and pride, so I’m happy with how we came out and played with emotion.”
Ortega said he felt the defense kept in the game was motivated throughout, sticking together as a team and pumping each other up.
“I think, overall, we fought to the end because we didn’t give up, didn’t roll over and didn’t say ‘no’,” he said. “Lee Leavell took a big step in leading the team and keeping us motivated as one of our captains.”
The Tigers (1-3, 3-4) will play their final league game this Friday, Oct. 29 against Okanogan.
“We are looking forward to the Okanogan game,” Hawkins said. “Over the past few years, the games have been close and exciting. This team is full of great kids who love to play the game of football.”
Though Hawkins said the Tigers are disappointed about not making the regional playoffs, they understand how much they’ve improved since the first game of the season.
“It is always a top priority to reach your highest potential as a team at the end of the year,” he added. “We look forward to playing our best game as the season nears the end.”