TONASKET – A long month of playing the top teams in the Caribou Trail League — which are also some of the best 1A teams in the state — came to a happy end for the Tonasket football team Friday, Oct. 19, as the Tigers pulled away from Omak in the second half to claim a 36-14 Senior Night victory.
It was the first Tonasket win over the Pioneers since 2007.
The Tigers scored three touchdowns over the final quarter and a half to pull away from the Pioneers, who cut an early 15-0 Tonasket lead to 15-14 early in the second quarter.
“You could see how much it meant on the kids’ faces after the game,” said Tonasket coach Jay Hawkins. “This has been a really good team as far as working hard to get better, and they do a good job of sticking to the game plan. So this was a really nice payoff for them.”
A big part of the Tigers’ game plan depended on cutting down on the turnovers that plagued them during losses to Cashmere, Cascade, Quincy and Okanogan. Tonasket did lose a fumble on its first play from scrimmage, but other than that played turnover-free for the night.
“We did a better job with that,” Hawkins said. “What I was really pleased with was the on-field adjustments the kids made themselves. They recognized what Omak was doing and suggested things that we needed to do. So mentally they really played a great game.”
The Tigers struck first on a 44-yard scoring strike from Trevor Terris to Michael Orozco and added an 11-yard Austin Booker touchdown run late in the second quarter.
Omak got back in the game with a 20-yard pass from Alex Aguilar to Marcus Ruiz, and Sammy Trudeaux’s 44-yard run on Omak’s first possession of the third quarter pulled the Pioneers to within a point.
The Tigers took control with a 7-yard pass from Terris to Roberto Juarez late in the third quarter, and touchdown runs by Orozco (71 yards) and Booker (2 yards) in the fourth to pull away.
“We had a lot of guys contribute like we did earlier in the year,” Hawkins said. “Keeping the guys’ attitude (positive) over the last month has been our top priority. It’s been a credit to the kids to hold it together. We kept reminding them that they’re the same team that they were earlier in the year. We just ran into some really good teams, especially the last three.”
The Tigers (4-4, 2-4 CTL) conclude league play at Chelan (3-5, 2-4) which, with the return of star quarterback Michael Amsel, Jr., after winning a lengthy eligibility battle with the WIAA, has easily won its last two games.
Even if the Tigers lose at Chelan, they have a shot at their first .500 season since 2007 if they can win their crossover game with a Northeast A League team on Nov. 2 or 3. Tonasket will likely play at Riverside or at Newport, depending on the results of this weekend’s NEA games.