Tigers launch into 2021 football season Friday. Here's the 2021 schedule and players to watch
The Dunsmuir Tigers 8-man football team will take to the field for the first time since 2019 this Friday. The Tigers open 2021 at home against Loyalton, with a 6 p.m. start.
Jacob Mekeel is the new head coach at Dunsmuir, taking over for longtime coach Ray Kellar.
“I am excited to take over a program that I played in for four years and had a lot of success in,” he said. Mekeel is a 2012 Dunsmuir High School. He played under Kellar when the Tigers competed for a section title three years in a row. This is Mekeel's fourth year teaching at Dunsmuir High School and he has also been the head boy's basketball and baseball coach.
“I have enjoyed thoroughly being back in the community that molded me into the person I am today,” Mekeel said.
Four weeks of practice under Tigers' belt
On Friday, Mekeel said the team was entering its fourth week of practice. He added that the air quality due to fires in the area had been something they have had to monitor closely daily.
“We have been able to get outside most days which has helped,” he said.
The Tigers took part in a scrimmage last Week in Dorris against Butte Valley and Tulelake.
“It went as you would expect a scrimmage to go, some high and some lows,” Mekeel said. “For the first time seeing another opponent, we had a positive day.”
He is encouraged to have around 15 players, which is the school's highest number in several years. In 2019, they had eight players, and had a few games where only six or seven players suited up.
“I have 15 guys on the roster that show up every day and work hard,” Mekeel said. “All 15 will play a pivotal role in the outcome of our season ... Our goals as a coaching staff are to change the culture of the football program as a whole. We preach that being a good football team is not just about what happens on the field, but what you do in all aspects of your life. Things like being on time, getting better outside of practice, and making your education a priority are instilled on a daily basis.”
Mekeel said he enjoys having the chance to coach at Dunsmuir.
“I get to instill values outside of the classroom that will play a role in their lives for years to come,” he said about the players. “One thing that keeps me coaching is knowing the memories that are being made for the young students that they will cherish forever.”
Mekeel said that one goal for the team is “to compete and prepare for every single game as best we can. Both the players and the coaches are putting in hours of work in order to get the program to where it needs to be. As a team, the ultimate goal is to make the playoffs."
In Mekeel's words, here's how these players will contribute this season
- Noah Snell: “Senior QB who is playing organized football for the first time. He is a lefty who can throw the ball a little bit and has the speed to run the option. He is raw when it comes to football but the more reps he gets, the better player he will become.
- Jasper Mitchell: “He will do it all for us. Most of his time will be spent at running back but he will see time at QB as well. I have labeled his position as athlete because he may end up playing every position on the field once the season is over. We will need him to step up and be a leader for the team to succeed, as he has been one of the longest tenured members of the football program.”
- Levi Cornett: Levi is a senior transfer from Oregon who will play linebacker and running back for us. He is a hard nosed player who is not afraid to go in there and make any play we need. We will rely on him heavily in the short yardage run game to pick up those first downs and goal line TDs for us.
- Jaiden Freeman: Jaiden is a junior who will anchor our offensive line. He plays with passion and heart. If you come to a game there is no doubt you will be able to hear him from the stands communicating with his teammates. He will be at middle linebacker for us supplying a lot of tackling.”
"There are many more players I could mention," Mekeel said.
Mekeel believes the league is pretty wide open this year “and we have a shot. It will come down to if we are willing to put in the work. He added they will have a pre-season test Friday against Loyalton in a non league match which he said will “show what we really have in the tank.”
Mekeel said the Tigers “will run some smash mouth I-Formation football as well as mixing in some spread offense. We have size and speed that will allow us to be able to switch things up offensively to keep the other team guessing. ... On defense we will run a 3-3-2 mixed with a 4-2-1. We want to pack the box and stop the run all day in an 8-man game where running the ball is the key.”
Players excited to begin the season
Mitchell said he can wait for the season to begin.
“Practices have been pretty good,” he said, adding he is pleased to have a lot more players on the team this year.
“To have players that are excited to be here is big,” he said.
Freeman said “everyone is ready to go,” and he like how the team ahs already bonded this year.
“I feel like we have a lot of potential,” he said. “ I feel we’re going to be good.”
Freeman encouraged the community to come out on Friday night’s and cheer the team on, saying it means a lot to the to have fans in the stands.
He admitted it was “rough” last year not being able to play football and is excited to have the chance to play once again.
Freeman said they have worked hard on their conditioning and said that will be key to their success this season.
“I think it will help us to still be fresh in the fourth quarter,” he said.
Mekeel said the being back playing football again is huge for the players.
"The trips, being around teammates, etc.. is what they will remember forever,” he said. “Being with each other every day working as hard as we are allows us to build a camaraderie that was lost when COVID hit.
Here's the Tigers' 2021 coaching staff
- Jeff Cannon - Defensive Coordinator
- Brandon Acord - Offensive Coordinator
- Carlos Flores - Assistant
- David Murr - Assistant
- CJ Palmer - Assistant
Dunsmuir Tigers 2021 football season schedule
All games are at 6 p.m. League games are in asterisks.
27: Loyalton at home
3: Happy Camp. Away
10: Hayfork at home
17: *Westwood. Away
24: *Happy Camp at home
1: *Greenville. Away
8: *Butte Valley at home
15: *Big Valley at home. Homecoming
22: *Hayfork. Away
29: *Princeton at home