TOUCHET — Gary Dorman’s idea of spreading the wealth has paid handsome dividends during the course of a 9-1 regular season.
And the Touchet head football coach doesn’t see any reason to change tactics now that the Indians are into the postseason. Touchet entertains Odessa-Harrington here Friday afternoon at 2 in a District 7/9 loser-out crossover game.
The Indians enter the 8-man playoffs as the No. 2 seed out of the Southeast 1B District while Odessa-Harrington, 5-5, is seeded third out of the Northeast 1B League. The game will be a rematch of the season opener here Sept. 6 when the Indians defeated the Titans 46-28.
“We have no intentions of doing anything differently,” Dorman said as he looked ahead to the playoffs for the fourth time in his five-year tenure as the Indians head coach.
Which means the O-H defense will have to deal with as many as five Touchet ballcarriers who have made strong contributions during the regular season.
Edgar Rincon, a 160-pound senior, leads the Indians’ ground game with 605 yards rushing on 68 carries, with 11 touchdowns. But he has plenty of help.
Senior Colton Goble, the other starting running back, has gained 582 yards on 64 carries and scored seven TDs. Junior Colter McKeown and senior Cesar Velasquez are a second set of running backs, with McKeown rushing for 560 yards and six touchdowns on 52 carries and Velasquez picking up 328 yards on 38 trips and scoring four times.
And then there’s the quarterback, senior Elias Martinez, who has piled up 541 yards rushing on just 22 carries and has reached the end zone 12 times.
“Elias is as good a running back as there is at the quarterback position,” Dorman said of his third-year starter. “Teams have to account for him, and that opens things up for some of the other kids.”
Martinez has also been an effective passer, although the Indians haven’t gone to the air all that often this season. Martinez has completed 30-of-53 passes for 577 yards and 16 touchdowns while being intercepted just twice.
And like their rushing game, the passing yards have been spread around.
Senior Ruben Butler is the leader with 12 catches for 164 yards and four TDs. Edgar Rincon has seven receptions for 138 yards and two scores, Goble has six catches for 88 yards and three touchdowns and Colter McKeown, who doesn’t even start on offense, has 11 receptions for 96 yards and four scores.
“We want to be able to throw the ball, and we think we can,” Dorman said. “But in some of these games we have played, you just don’t throw. When you get a big enough lead you are not going to throw the ball, and I think that has kind of led to the lack of passing.”
The Indians averaged 49.2 points per game during the regular season, and their average margin of victory in their nine wins was 37.5.
With nine seniors among the 27 players on this year’s Touchet roster, depth is clearly one of the team’s strongest suits. Only four Indians — Martinez (QB-DB), Goble (RB-DT), Edgar Rincon (RB-DB) and Ruben Butler (E-LB) — are two-way starters, a rarity in small-school football and almost unheard of in the 8-man division.
Senior Ivan Hernandez at center, senior Casey Sewell and junior Tim Weber at the guard positions, and senior Conner McKeown at end round out the offensive starting lineup. Junior Jorge Garcia at tackle, Colter McKeown at linebacker, and Velasquez and sophomore Carlos Rincon at the end positions complete the defensive unit.
But just as important, Dorman believes, is team speed, especially in the offensive backfield where the four top running backs are all threats to turn the corner in the wide-open 8-man game.
“That is our strength most definitely,” Dorman said. “We actually have six kids at the running back position who are as fast or faster than anyone we have seen this season.”
The Indians have never advanced beyond the quarterfinal round during Dorman’s five seasons at the helm. Cusick stopped the Indians in a down-to-the-wire heartbreaker last year in Spokane, and Almira-Coulee-Hartline ended Touchet’s season the year before in a quarterfinal game in Moses Lake.
“At the beginning of the year we talk about just trying to take care of Touchet,” the coach said. “We just try to get better week by week, and if you run into a team that is better than you, well, that’s what the playoffs are all about. The best team advances.
“But our kids have looked forward to this opportunity to get to the playoffs and maybe get a little further down the road. And I think that any team from our league that makes the playoffs should be competitive.”