Okanogan football heads to Tacoma Dome

The Okanogan High School football team this morning settles into the bus taking it to the state 2B championship game in the Tacoma Dome.

Photo by Al Camp
The Okanogan High School football team this morning settles into the bus taking it to the state 2B championship game in the Tacoma Dome.



— The Okanogan High School football team is state-bound this morning following a standing-room-only sendoff by middle and high school students and administrators.

The Bulldogs (12-1) take on Napavine (13-0) at 4 p.m. Friday in the Tacoma Dome for the state 2B championship.

During an impromptu sendoff assembly, Athletic Director Steve Chamberlin gave a brief background on how the Bulldogs reached the 14th and final game of the season.

That included beating the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 teams from the adjacent district. Lind-Ritzville/Sprague and Reardan, which were among them, accounted for 6 of the last 12 state 2B titles.

“They kind of know where Okanogan County is located now,” said Chamberlin to a rousing cheer.

Coach Erick Judd, an Okanogan graduate, told of how running back Tyler “T.J.” Morris broke the coach’s school record for yards in a season, yards in a career and touchdowns in a career. Judd’s single-season record was the best in the state that year.

“We started the season to win 14 games,” Judd said. “There are 44 guys on the team. They compete every single day in practice.”

photo

The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle

Okanogan senior football players pose for a going-away photo before heading to the state 2B championship at 4 p.m. Friday in the Tacoma Dome. They include, from left, Tyler Cox, Jim Townsend, T.J. Morris, Ben Cate, Joey Staggs, Gage Cotner and Brad Nearents.

The band and cheerleaders were commended several times for enduring cold conditions at the last game in Moses Lake.

Those conditions, Chamberlin said, included a wind chill of around 12 degrees and 27 mph winds at the end of the game.

Superintendent Richard Johnson told of seeing a photo of bundled-up fans at the game.

“It was so cold, but they came to support you,” he told the football team. “This is your chance to make history. We get to go over there and show those people how football is played in Eastern Washington.”

The band, which had a couple small propane heaters, managed to keep instruments working fairly well into the fourth quarter of last week's semifinal game.

“The Ellensburg band, in the game before, played two songs,” Chamberlin said. “The Okanogan band made it to the fourth quarter.”

The school’s 15 cheerleaders and mascot led the crowd in the school cheer before giving out placards with each player’s name and number to go with a gift of a bag of goodies for the trip to Tacoma.

Adviser Trisha Bradley introduced each cheerleader, noting they did more than 2,000 jumping jacks this year, representing points the team scored.

“Good luck, and let’s bring home the ball,” Chamberlin said.

After the assembly, parents took photos with their sons, many well-wishers told the team good luck and the players boarded a special bus paid for by Colville Confederated Tribes.

The players, once boarded, checked out the cushy seats and played with window screens, many having never been in such a bus.

“The community support has been pretty amazing,” Judd said. “It takes a whole community to get us where we want to go.”



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