Homecoming Part 2:?Tigers win big

Richard D. McCormack

There are two reasons why Friday night’s game against the Mercy Warriors should be titled “Homecoming: Part 2.” Not only were this year’s Homecoming events split – because of a scheduling conflict – between the week of the Herlong game and the week of the Mercy game, but on the gridiron it was a two-part game, the first half much different than the second.

Mercy scored 28 points in the first half and only 6 in the second half and the Tigers improved to 5-0 with a 69-34 victory.

In the first half the Tigers gave up 28 of Mercy’s 34 points due to errors on defense. Bad containment and loose reads gave the Warriors an advantage that they capitalized on. The Warriors showed that they came to play right out of the gate. However, in the second half the Tigers found their way and “Homecoming: Part 2” was the big show.

“We started the game slowly as Mercy scored on a long run within the first minute of the game,” said head coach Ray Kellar. “The first half went back and forth with scoring, with the quarter ending 20-14 [Tigers] ahead. The second quarter was no different as we traded scores and just couldn't seem to get a handle on their offense.”

In the second half the Tigers came out growling holding the Warriors to only six points, which gave the Tigers a 69-34 victory.

“After our halftime adjustments and much discussion, we were able to make defensive stops consistently, while the offense kept on firing,” Kellar said.

The first half the Warriors had 234 yards rushing and 105 yards passing, while Dunsmuir had 105 yards rushing and 103 yards passing. However, in the second half, the game took a different turn. The Tigers held Mercy to only 30 yards rushing and 45 yards passing, while Dunsmuir put up 260 yards rushing and 48 yards passing.

“A lot of our turn around had to do with our conditioning,” said Jason Young, offensive coordinator for the Tigers. In the second half the Warriors “were sucking air and we were just getting our second wind.”

One Tiger fan said, “They [Warriors] were not this good at the scrimmage in August, but it looks like they came to play.”

Colton “Crash” Sordahl continued his march in rushing with his fourth 200 plus yards rushing game with 208 yards. His most in a single game was 411 yards against Loyalton. Sordahl also had 72 yards on two receptions, one sack, three kick off returns for 103 yards, five touchdowns and two conversions which attributed 34 points towards the Tigers win.

Jake “Tiger” Mekeel was all over the field Friday night as he led the team most the game as quarterback. Mekeel threw six completions of thirteen attempts for 138 yards, four of which were for touchdowns. Mekeel also rushed for nine yards on five carries, made seven tackles and eight assists, and had one reception for thirteen yards.

Leading the Tigers in tackles was Zack Bartoo with nine tackles and three assists, Jake “Tiger” Mekeel with seven tackles and eight assists, Colton “Crash” Sordahl with eight tackles and one assist, James Adams with five tackles four assists, Cody Rooney with five tackles and three assists, Daniel Ballard with four tackles and two assists, Jeff Rhoades with three tackles and five assists, Erik Johnson with three tackles and two assists, Jay Rhoades with two tackles and four assists, Justin DeClusin with two tackles and one assist, and Justin Shuler with one tackle.

The Tigers had two injuries during the game with Justin Shuler twisting an ankle and being replaced by James Adams

“This immediately impacted our defense,” said Kellar, “as he is a huge loss at middle backer. However, James Adams responded extremely well. He came into the game and not only held his own but excelled at middle linebacker.”

Later Jeff Rhoades came out of the game with a pulled muscle. Both plan on playing against Hayfork.

On offense the Tigers scored 10 touchdowns with four conversions and one place kick for the Tigers 69 points.

Cody Rooney had two touchdowns and one conversion, all three by receptions. Justin DeClusin had one touchdown and one conversion, and Dayton Pepperdine had one touchdown from a 68 yard kickoff return. Pepperdine’s return was almost a “Part 2” as he did the same type of return against Happy Camp, Sept. 24.

Other offensive stats were: Daniel Ballard for a thirteen yard pass completion and three interceptions on defense; Justin DeClusin with 62 yards on eight carries; Dayton Pepperdine with 35 yards on five carries; Zack Bartoo with 24 yards on two carries along with 23 yards on one reception and two interception on defense.

CJ Palmer also had six yards on two carries, Kyle Rooney with one yard on one carry, and Jeff Rhoades with four yards on one carry.

“The adjustments made at half were incredibly received by an astute and determined group of young men,” said Kellar.

Kellar also credits the win to the support of the fans. “It also helps to have the tremendous community support from the people of Dunsmuir,” Kellar said. “It was another great crowd, and the enthusiasm that the community has for this team is remarkable.”

Anticipations are high going into this Friday night’s game against Hayfork, who beat #2 Butte Valley 54-34, moving the Lumberjacks into the #2 seed in league. Dunsmuir and Hayfork are neck-in-neck as they go into Friday night’s game. The Tigers are ranked #1 in league with Hayfork #2. However, in Division VI, Hayfork is ranked #1 and the Tigers are ranked #2.

The Tigers have scored an average of 64.6 points per game and have only given up 21.2 points per game. The Lumberjacks have scored 61.3 per game and have given up 30.25 points per game. The only team the two have played for comparison is the Princeton Eagles. The Jacks beat the Eagles 56-28, however the Tigers rousted the Eagles 52-6.

“We play at home again next week against defending section champs Hayfork,” Kellar said. “We have our work cut out for us this week, as we want to be the first to put a blemish on their win record. They haven't lost a game in quite some time.”

One scheduling change of note for the Tigers: their game against Liberty has changed from October 15 to Thursday, October 14, at 7:00. The game will be played in Dunsmuir because of a conflict in scheduling for Liberty. Dunsmuir will be the visiting team so booster passes and other local cards will not be honored for the game.