TOUCHET — Whatever happens Friday afternoon in the Tacoma Dome, emotions are sure to be raw on the Touchet sidelines.
Because win or lose, it will be the final game for nine Indians seniors who have been playing football alongside one another since they were in middle school.
“It’s going to be emotional, I know that for sure,” quarterback Elias Martinez said Wednesday as he looked forward to his final day of practice on the snow-covered Touchet field. The team left for Tacoma early this morning and will hold one final practice this afternoon in the Tacoma Dome before facing Neah Bay Friday at 4 p.m. in the Gridiron Classic Class 1B 8-man state championship game.
“It has been a lot of fun playing with all of these guys,” Martinez reflected, “knowing we all have each other’s back. I am going to miss playing with them.”
After losing in the quarterfinals each of the last two years, this senior group was more determined than ever to make it to the finals this year. It nearly didn’t happen.
“Yeah, I was worried just a little bit,” senior center Ivan Hernandez said of Saturday’s semifinal game when the Indians fell behind Rosalia 30-6 in the second quarter.
Edgar Rincon, the Indians’ senior halfback and defensive back, echoed Hernandez’s concern.
“I was a little worried, too, but I knew we could pull it out,” Rincon said. “It was something we needed to accomplish.”
And they did, rallying for a 62-36 victory as Martinez fired five touchdown passes and ran for another to key the comeback.
“That first quarter was tough, trying to figure out what (Rosalia) was doing,” Martinez admitted. “Once we caught on, we got our feet under us and started playing Touchet football. We were playing harder and feeding off each other.”
Undefeated Neah Bay will be an equally difficult challenge.
“They are big and physical,” Martinez said of the Red Devils. “We are fast and physical. We will see how that turns out.”
Regardless of the outcome, it’s sure to be a day to remember for all nine seniors.
“It is still pretty unreal,” Hernandez said. “It still hasn’t hit us that we are going to Tacoma. But as soon as we get on that bus, it will be like, ‘Oh, yeah, we are going.’”
“It’s hard to put into words,” Rincon said. “You get goose bumps just thinking of going.”
These Touchet seniors are a close knit group on and off the field.
“This is an amazing group of guys,” Hernandez said. “And we are ready to go all the way.”
“Basically,” added Rincon, “we are all like brothers.”