Dunsmuir Tigers win first football game since 2018
As an old proverb says, “Good things come to those who wait.” The Dunsmuir Tigers eight-man football team certainly hopes that is the case this season – and they're off to a good start. The Tigers defeated the Hayfork Timberjacks at home Friday night 28-14 to improve to 1-1 for the year.
It was the first victory for DHS since downing Happy Camp on the road 32-24 on Oct. 19 2018. The last home win for the Tigers came on Aug. 26, 2016, when they beat Westwood 36-14.
Dunsmuir did not have a season last year due to COVID and went winless during the 2019 campaign. The Tigers opened the 2021 season on Aug. 27 with a 48-6 home loss to Loyalton.
“Getting a win in front of the home crowd was an experience this team will not forget,” first-year head coach Jacob Mekeel said. “This team set a goal to bring back a winning tradition to the Tiger football program, and although the work is not done, they were able to experience a little taste of what winning feels like.”
Dunsmuir won the Northern Section 8-man football title in 2012 with a 12-1 mark.
Success in the trenches
Coach Mekeel said a main factor in his team's success Friday night was that the O-Line and D-line were able to control the line of scrimmage.
On offense, the Tigers were able to gain big chunks of yards on the ground “because our O-Line was firing off and creating holes for our running backs to access,” Mekeel said. The Tigers finished with 275 rushing yards.
“Both our defensive tackles and defensive ends were able to control the line of scrimmage which allowed our linebackers to make plays all night in the backfield,” Mekeel said. “As a whole, they are the reason for our success. They played hard all four quarters and dominated the line of scrimmage, which led to the team's overall success.”
Another key factor in the victory, he added, was the Tigers didn't have turnovers which was an improvement from their first game of the year where there were too many.
Mekeel highlights efforts of key players
Noah Snell: “He played quarterback for us and ended up rushing for multiple TDs on the night. He was a leader on the field for us offensively, which helped our successes on offense.” Snell finished with 160 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Jasper Mitchell and Levi Cornett: “These guys are our main running backs and ran the ball hard all night up the middle, which opened up the outside for our QB to get some big gains on bootleg plays. They also play a huge role on defensive as linebackers as they flew around all night and made tackle after tackle.”
Cornett finished with 14 tackles, one forced fumble and 28 yards rushing, while Mitchell had 13 tackles and a fumble recovery and 85 rushing yards.
Elias Wilson: “Had a key onside kick that we recovered which was a huge momentum shift for us.”
Another key contributor on defense was Jaiden Freeman who had 11 tackles and an interception.
Coach Mekeel said that he “could go on and on about individuals, but the most impressive thing we did all night was communicated as a team on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball."
Mekeel believes the Tigers have the potential to have a successful season on the gridiron this year. The key reason is their work ethic and how they all band together as a cohesive unit and want to improve each practice and game.
“Day in and day out, they come ready to improve,” he said. “They are a coachable group, which is sometimes hard to find with young athletes. They can take the coaching staff's coaching and use it to improve rather than taking it personally."
On the horizon
This Friday, Dunsmuir heads to Westwood for a 6 p.m. contest. The Tigers have a bye the following week, followed by a game at Herlong on Saturday, Oct. 2. Finally, the Tigers return home on Friday, Oct. 8 versus Butte Valley.
“In order for us to continue to get wins, we will need to keep improving our football techniques as well as our football IQs,” Mekeel said. “The more we understand the game, the better we play.”