The game was new for a batch of wide-eyed Odessa varsity freshmen soon to embark on a memorable football journey.
Now seniors, this year is the fourth in careers that progressed slowly but surely and led to last season’s State 1B semifinal game.
One of those seniors, receiver/defensive back Cade Weber, looked back.
It was shock enough, he said, going from junior high to playing games against bigger, stronger seniors.
“Our freshman year we were (also) scraping to get guys to play,” he said. “We were playing games with only nine or 10.”
Another of the then-freshmen, Jared King, started at quarterback. The rest, said Weber, subbed in for experience.
“We struggled against the top teams,” said coach Bruce Todd of his youthful charges.
“On the flip side, there were weak teams, too, and we did well against them.”
The numbers issue was resolved the next year when Odessa combined with Harrington, a school previously allied with Sprague.
“The co-op has worked well,” said Todd. “We got some good kids from there and the kids (from each school) work together well.”
As sophomores, the Titans lost in the first round of playoffs for the second straight season, Weber said.
“I think we had the talent to go farther,” he said. “We were just trying to mesh with the Harrington guys.”
Last season, after dropping two of their first three games, the Titans began to click.
King passed and ran for more than 40 touchdowns during the season.
They lost just once in their final 10 games, avenging an earlier loss to Cusick and upsetting Colton in the playoffs to reach the 1B semifinals. Those losses came against state finalists Almira/Coulee-Hartline and titlist Neah Bay.
“Jared just dominated,” said Weber, his favorite target.
Todd said that the team improved from beginning of the season to end more than any he’s coached. “Beating Colton was huge.”
The final season for the four-year Tigers begins Friday.
“Last year I think we were kind of hoping to win and were excited when we did,” Weber said. “This year we’re going to be expecting to win.”
What would it take to reach a State 1B title game?
“Beat the team we meet in the semifinals,” Todd quipped.
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