REPUBLIC– The modified 2021 football season was full of challenges and uncertainty for the Republic High School football team.
When the season started, the Tigers football program was not able to set foot or practice on their home field due to over a foot of snow still covering the ground in northern Ferry County. The team was forced to practice in the gym or outside in the parking lot and would be forced to play all away games as well.
“That really sucks,” said Mick Fraser, head coach for Republic. “It was just like challenge after challenge.”
The Tigers made do with their temporary practice field, and when they did set foot on a football field, they didn’t miss a beat.
Republic started off the season with a 40-0 win at Curlew on Feb. 23, followed by a 68-0 win against Inchelium/Hunters, then a 60-0 win over Selkirk on March 3 and then a win by forfeit against Mary Walker as the Chargers didn’t have enough players to field a team on the day of the game.
Republic (4-0) would find themselves playing against undefeated Odessa, who was ranked number one in the state for all 1B teams, according to Maxpreps, for the NE 1B League Championship.
This would also be the first time the entire season, Republic would get a game under the lights as all their games prior had been day games.
“This is the fourth time we’ve been on a football field the whole season,” said Frazer. “Super challenging.”
Odessa, not taking Republic lightly, started off fast scoring less than two minutes into the game.
From there, the Tigers of Odessa would go on to build up their lead as they held a 60- advantage at halftime, eventually going on to win 78-0 on Saturday night in Odessa to end the season.
“I knew this game was either going to be a dogfight or a blowout,” said Fraser. “We just took off to slow. You can’t do that against a team like Odessa. You could see it against a well-oiled team; we knew this was going to be a super tough team. Hey, we had four practices on a football field.”
Republic is optimistic about their next season as the team will bring back nearly their entire squad next year and they will have eight seniors leading the way.
One of them will be perhaps the smallest player on the team.
At 5-foot-6, 125 pounds, tribal member Darin Tonasket stepped in as quarterback for Republic against Odessa and seemed fit right in.
“Tonight, Darin Tonasket stepping in and being the quarterback, he might be 125 pounds but the kid is fearless. That’s what I love about him,” says Fraser. “He stepped in and gets a big reception and he’s not afraid to take off and run.”
“He’s probably my quarterback next year. This team, were going to give Odessa a run and Darin gets to lead that.”
Republic finishes the year at 4-1, and put up 168 points in their 5-game schedule.
“We did a lot of good work in the north,” said Fraser, referring to the NE 1B North Division. “They made a good run.”