Longtime coach Ray Kellar said the 2019 team is a fairly young group with mainly new players. He's been pleased with the team's commitment and dedication at practice and their pride in being members of the Tiger team.

The Dunsmuir Tigers have a young team that’s working hard to ready themselves for a new year of 8-man football.

Longtime coach Ray Kellar said the 2019 team is a fairly young group with mainly new players. He’s been pleased with the team’s commitment and dedication at practice and their pride in being members of the Tiger team. Besides being head football coach, Kellar is also the principal, superintendent and athletic director at DHS.

The Tigers open the 2019 season in front of the home fans on Friday, Aug. 30 with a 6 p.m. game against the Herlong Vikings.

While this season is shaping up to be a rebuilding year, Kellar believes his team will come out each week and give it all they’ve got on the gridiron.

“We want this team to be competitive and to keep getting better each week,” he said.

Last season, the Tigers went 1-7, with the lone win a 32-24 victory against Happy Camp in the second to last game of the year.

Kellar has done this long enough that he understands not every year will result in an abundance of wins on the scoreboard. For Kellar, it comes down to teaching his team the right way to play the sport and the life lessons they learn.

“I love being able to coach,” he said. “I enjoy the competition and getting them ready for life.”

The Tigers currently have about 13 players on the roster. Keller said things in football go in waves, with the Tigers averaging no more than two wins a year since 2014. Before that, there was a six year period when the team had a winning record each year, even winning a section title in 2012. The Tigers went 11-1 in 2013 and lost in the section title game.

While it is certainly nice to win championships, Kellar said, and the team would like to earn for more in the future, he understands that isn’t always possible.

“Really, it’s about working with these kids and teaching them about football and life. For me, it comes down to how they take these lessons you learn from playing football and use it as a positive in their future growth.”

This year’s North 8-man League will again be a tough one with perennial powers such as Big Valley and Redding Christian expected to be competitive. In the South 8-man football league, Chester is a new member after being a strong 11-man program with frequent playoff appearances in recent years. The Tigers will face the Volcanoes on the road on Sept. 6. Burney also dropped down from 11-man to 8-man football this season and will join the South Division. The Weed Cougars, which for the past few years played 8-man football, returns to 11-man football this season.

After being an independent team last year after restarting football after a 16 year absence, McCloud is also set to join the North 8-man football league this season.

Kellar said at practice the last week that it is still a bit too early to predict which newcomers will contribute to the team, but believes there will be some that will step up and help the team in a big way.

While that there are only three returning starters from last year, Kellar said they have done a good job of leading by example and helping the other players prepare for the season. Returning seniors include Stephen Durate, who will likely play running back and quarterback on offense and cornerback on defense. Casey Clark will be a guard on defense and a defensive lineman, and Carlos Flores is expected to be a key contributer on the line on both sides of the ball.

Kellar said that senior Maia Wilson was injured most of last season but contributed when she was on the field. Kellar said she has done well at practices so far and said she will likely contribute as a linebacker on defense and at tight end on offense.