Dunsmuir Tigers reach 6-0 in Homecoming thriller

Tony D'Souza
The Dunsmuir Tigers’ defense swarms over the Eagles’ running back in the backfield.

As he watched the Dunsmuir High School seniors battle the juniors in a tug-of-war last Thursday evening at the football field, head coach Steve Van Ert seemed unusually calm for someone whose team was about to host an undefeated opponent on the season’s biggest stage to date: Homecoming weekend.

This has been no ordinary season for Dunsmuir. Capitalizing on the versatile skills of a squad that came to the gridiron this year ready to play, Van Ert has combined a swarming defense with an explosive offense to remain undefeated through the second week of October.

All of that was on the line Friday night against the  Princeton Eagles (6-0). Before the game, Van Ert--who used last week’s bye to scout the opposing team--said, “It’s going to be a tough game, the first real challenge of the year. Princeton is very well coached, very well disciplined. We have greater speed and strength. It’s going to come down to who keeps discipline best..As long as we control the pass game, we have a good chance...We have to keep them to two scores or less in the first quarter.”

Of course Van Ert was aware of Princeton’s height advantage, of the mismatches his cornerbacks would face. With two receivers over six feet tall, Princeton’s wideouts posed the biggest threat to a Dunsmuir team whose outstanding defensive has become a significant source of pride.

Led by a homecoming crowd eager to see another Tigers victory, the team took the field against Princeton chanting, “Who’s house? Our house! Who’s house? Our house!”

In a thrilling game marked by cold weather, the rushing attack of Cory Knowles combined with the hard-hitting defense of Erin Hirsch proved too much for the Princeton Eagles to overcome. The game went down to the wire and ended with a defensive stop in the Tigers’ red zone.

As the 6-0 Tigers lifted their helmets in victory, Van Ert said that the keys to the game were, “The discipline, the heart. I think [the Tigers] came out and really learned that they can believe in themselves. They didn’t let adversity get them down, they gave a whole team effort. One of the beauties of this team is that we know we have depth.”

Read the complete game summary in Sports.