By Michael Bunnell
Friday Harbor’s youth football teams capped an almost flawless season by bringing home not just one, but two championship trophies.
The Freshman Division Tigers (9- and 10-year-old players) went undefeated for the season and capped the play-offs with a 34-0 drubbing of La Conner. This is the third Tigers Freshman Division team to go undefeated for the season, but the first to win a post-season championship.
The Tigers Peewee Division team (six- to eight-year-old players) lost only one game all season, and that was only by one point. They clinched their trophy by trouncing Darrington 41-7.
This season’s peewee Tigers weren’t born in 2007 — the last time a Friday Harbor team won a North Cascade Youth Football League championship. This was the first-ever championship for a Friday Harbor peewee team.
The Tigers organization can now boast five championships and can take an extra helping of satisfaction from the fact that this is the first time two Tigers teams have won in the same year.
Freshman Head Coach Kasey Anderson was assisted by Shawn Kline, Travis Mager and Justin Nibler. Peewees Head Coach Kelly Martinez was assisted by Rob Ross and Steve Parker.
Youth football was established on the island in 1991. The number of active players has varied from year to year. This year, there were 48 participants.
The Tigers practice 15 hours a week in August, then cut back to six hours a week when school starts. Their coaches are certified under several training and sports safety programs, and they attend coaching seminars on how to protect their young players from serious injuries including concussions.
Games are played on Saturdays from August to November. The NCYFL covers five counties — Skagit, Snohomish, Whatcom, Island and San Juan. The eight-game season is followed by three weeks of post-season play.
Games consist of four, 10-minute quarters.
There are actually four Tigers Divisions, but the Senior Division (13-year- olds) did not field a team this year.
– Bunnell is the Author of The Friendly Little War of Lyman Cutler. Available in print or e-book at Amazon.com.