Football: Douglas Pop Warner in regional semifinals
As a football coach, maybe once or twice a season the thought crosses your mind that your defense could shut out another team.
There might even be a chance you’d hold them without a single first down.
But surely not in the regional playoffs.
The Douglas Pop Warner Junior Midget football team shoved that line of thinking right out the window over the weekend, stone-walling the previously-unbeaten Spokane (Washington) Colts 26-0 in Santa Clara Sunday afternoon in the Pacific Northwest Region semifinals.
The Tigers held the Colts without a first down and controlled the game from the opening kickoff.
“We just out-hit them from the start,” Douglas coach Clay Peterson said. “Just all over the field, every kid made a contribution. All of our players played so well. You really couldn’t ask for more.”
Douglas drove down on its opening possession and scored on a Conner Peterson run, and then the Tiger defense took over.
Michael Nolting, Erik Edwards, Sam Cochran and Michael Hoyt all intercepted a pass and Nolting returned his for a touchdown.
Cochran and Hoyt each had a clear path to the end zone on thier picks, but chose to kneel down so as not to run up the score late in the game.
“I thought that was classy on their part,” Peterson said. “It was just a good show of sportsmanship.”
Peterson prasied the play of both lines, but specifically pointed out the defensive line.
“They created a lot of good pressure and that led to those interceptions,” he said.
“Lee Rusler had a nice sack and Connor Hughes had a tremendous hit on one of their receivers that knocked the ball loose. It was just a great defensive effort.”
The Tigers also got scores on the ground from Jack Crawford and Hoyt.
This group, now mostly seventh- and eighth-graders won the Sagebrush Empire Snow Bowl three years in a row and with a win on Saturday would catapault the Tigers into the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Orlando, Fla., with seven of the other top teams in the country.
Douglas will take on the Tri-City Titans Saturday at 1 p.m. at Woodside High School in Woodside, Calif.
“We got to see them last week and they are solid,” Peterson said. “They are fast and athletic.
“It’ll be a battle, but we feel we can be right in there with them.”
If the Tigers win, they’d be travelling to Florida the next Saturday, so Douglas Pop Warner is currently taking pledges to help offset the costs for the players and coaches.
“It’s one of those things where we have to have the travel arrangements done now,” Peterson said. “The community is always so great at supporting our program and we’re so grateful for that.
“We’re taking pledges so that if we lose, people wouldn’t have donated money for no reason.”
The Douglas Pop Warner cheerleaders are also at the regional championships this weekend. The Midgets and Junior Pee Wees will both compete for a spot at the national championships.
Anyone interested in pledging a donation to the program can call Pop Warner president Jim Valentine at 781-3704 or e-mail email@example.com.
– Joey Crandall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.