Tiger Football roared into the new season with big wins against all three of the teams it played against in Granite Falls the week of Aug. 24.
The three-year running undefeated junior team, led by head coach Shawn Kleine and assistant coaches Justin Nibler and Jason Garcia, were scored on for the first time in more than a year, but quickly came back to win the game.
“They were pretty surprised,” when scored upon, said Kleine, “but they fixed it quickly.”
With multiple players out with injuries, the team was running with quite a few kids in new positions. Victor Valasquez scored four touchdowns and eight kicking points in his first game as quarterback while subbing for injured Pierce Kleine.
Runningback Marcos Soto had two touchdowns, ending the game in a 44-6 win for the juniors.
During the 2018-2019 season, the junior team had a record-setting zero points scored against them during the entire year. Most of these sixth- and seventh-grade players have been playing together since peewees, the youngest of the Tiger teams made up of first- through third-graders.
“These kids really know their jobs,” said Kleine. “They’ve been doing it so long together.”
The fourth- and fifth-grade freshman team saw the first play of their game against Granite Falls end in a 75-yard touchdown against them but were able to turn it around and end the game with a 40-6 win.
“They really banded together, ” said Head Coach Rob Ross. “The other team never scored again.”
Channing Kleine led in points with two touchdowns. Hunter Ross and Dylan Lawson scored a touchdown each and kicker Jackson Feliz had a touchdown and five kicking points.
This year’s freshman team is made up of mostly returning players with three new team members and is coached by Ross and assistant coaches Greg Moses, Jordan Ross and Cody Feliz.
The peewee team had a huge 51-0 win for its first game of the season also against Granite Falls, a team with twice as many players.
“They did really well,” said head coach Sean Griffith. “They’re a more experienced team than last year that helps a lot.”
The peewees were able to get eight turnovers with Kash Griffith leading in points with four touchdowns. Logan Jackson scored three touchdowns for his team and Connor Carroll had one.
Commitment from the players, families and coaches plays a large part in the long-standing success of the Tiger Football program. This past year Griffith took it upon himself to reach out to the community to raise funding for new helmets for his players.
“With the new technology that’s out there our helmets were outdated,” said Griffith who grew up playing football for Friday Harbor and who’s son Kash is a third-year player on the peewee team. After researching concussion safety, helmets and costs Griffith chose top of the line Riddell Speed Flex helmets for their excellent safety standards
“That’s when I reached out to the community,” said Griffith, who was able to raise more than $14,000 in one afternoon from local businesses to purchase 60 brand new helmets, enough for all three Tiger teams.
“We’re very pleased,” said freshman coach Ross. “We can’t thank the community enough.”
The Tigers have three home games this season, Sept. 14, Oct. 5 and 12, all at the new field at John O. Linde Community Park on Carter Avenue.
The Tiger Cheerleaders jumped right into the season with thirteen members including seven returning, after opening up the team to 8-years-old for the first time.
“The wide age span (eight to 14 years old) is a challenge,” said head coach Jessica Briggs, ” but they’re doing really well.”
The all-girls squad starts practice in early August to prepare for long game days.
“We expect a lot from the cheerleaders,” said Briggs of herself and her assistant coaches Charlene McEwen and Jenni Staudt “It’s definitely a sport and they work very hard.”
During the first game of the season on Aug. 24 at Granite Falls, the squad spent almost seven hours cheering for all three of the Tiger Football teams.
This year, with the help of Friday Harbor High School Sophomore Hailey McCutcheon the team is working on a dance routine to be performed during half time at all three home games. Second-year squad members Jasmyn McEwen and Brandy Lawson have stepped up and been a big help with breaking down the cheers and helping the first-year members learn the routines, according to Biggs.
The Tiger Cheerleaders will be strutting their stuff at all of the away games as well as the three home games on Sept. 14, Oct. 5 and 12 at John O. Linde Community Park.