By Don Dopf

You might want to dig into your DVD collection and dust off your copy of “Remember the Titans!”  For those living under a rock for the last 17 years since the movie first hit the theaters, I’ll give you a brief synopsis. 

The movie Titans were a consolidated, integrated, inter-racial football team in the south, with more problems and adversity to overcome than one could imagine. Even the coaching staff was at each other’s throats most of the time. The movie accurately depicts the way hard work, discipline, and determination overcame all the diversity and made the Titans a huge success, not only winning a championship, but bringing a community together.

Do you see any parallels here? To avoid making this article sound like some kind of HS graduation address, I’ll leave you to your own conclusions and simply ask the question— Do you think our Titans are a close-knit, cohesive group of young men who have achieved a high level of success on and off the field, and while doing so, helped bring the communities of Cambridge and Midvale closer together than ever before? Any other small communities in the state might want to have a serious look at this sports co-op and use it as their pattern when faced with dwindling numbers.

The Tri-Valley Titans continue to amaze. Week after week the Titans have stricken a nearly perfect balance between their offensive and defensive units’ efforts in rolling up a perfect 9-0 record, sweeping them into the state semi-final next Friday. While the offense has averaged 57 points per game, the defense has allowed only 14 per game. Even more impressive is the fact that the first-string defense has allowed only eight points per game on average.

The Kendrick Tigers from the White Star League carried a similar record into Cambridge Friday evening for the opening round, quarterfinal match of the State A-1, Division II playoffs with the Titans. The Tigers similarly had scored 57 points per game while holding their opponents to 17, but had a couple of blemishes on their record this season, losing their opener to cross-division powerhouse Genesee, and then to equally powerful Deary by six last week.

On paper, Friday night’s matchup looked fairly even. The Tigers scored first on their first possession just eight minutes into the opening quarter but the Titan’s countered on their first as well when Collin Kindall reached the end zone on an eight-yarder. Jayden Mink’s pass to Chip Mitchell tied it at eight.

The Titan offense rolled up two more scores in the second quarter behind the skillful running of “Real-Deal” Teddy Ertel. Behind some beautiful blocking by the Titan O-Linemen Cody Nixon, Jay Langer, and Brock Johnson, and fullback Collin Kindall, Teddy would score on runs of 35 and 10 yards and one extra-point conversion. Jayden Mink passed to Chip Mitchell once again for the other conversion.

Meanwhile the defense was giving the Tigers more than they could handle. Kendrick was allowed a single touchdown with 45 seconds remaining in the half on a two-yard dive and the half ended with the Titans up 24-14.

Historically this season, the Titans have owned the third quarter and this game was no exception. Teddy Ertel set the pace on Tri-Valley’s  first possession of the game on an eight-yard run to the far corner of the end zone. The Tigers had the run covered, but Teddy’s friends powered him over the line with a rugby-style surge that left Kendrick somewhat frustrated. The Titans were now up 30-14.

Tri-Valley’s defensive line was nothing short of spectacular through the third quarter. Cody Nixon, DJ Jordan, Parker Cornwell, and Isaac Besel continually flooded the Tiger backfield, leaving Kendrick’s 6’4” quarterback with no time to find his receivers. The Tiger’s first possession of the quarter was brought to halt on a 4th down and long when Parker Cornwell slipped off the edge from his defensive end position for a huge sack at least ten yards behind the line of scrimmage.

The Titans would score again with three minutes left in the quarter on yet another Teddy Ertel run—this time from 35 yards, and yes, another Jayden Mink to Chip Mitchell pass for the extra points. Tri-Valley was up now 38-14.

Kendrick managed a final touchdown with extras midway through the final period, but the Titans secured the lead on yet another Teddy Ertel touchdown from ten yards out with about three minutes left in the game. You don’t fix what isn’t broken, and the Mink to Mitchell connection worked once again for the final extra points. The Final— TITANS 46, TIGERS 22.

It’s always risky business for a sportswriter to start singling out standout performances, especially when everyone on a team seems to stand out. There’s always a chance someone will get left out when I’m handing out kudos. Such was the situation in this game. I could say it’s unusual to see such a tremendous team effort, except it’s not at all unusual for this bunch of young men.

Coach Johnson gave huge praise to the offensive line when he said, "A big part of this victory goes to our offensive line. Kendrick was blitzing linebackers on about every play and our line executed their assignments to perfection."

Jayden Mink’s 10 completions on 13 pass attempts for 118 yards and four extra-point conversions was likely this junior quarterback’s personal best this season, and he would likely give credit to that O-line for much of this success.

Teddy Ertel has been nothing short of phenomenal this season, especially in the last two games. After a seemingly all-time best effort last week against Garden Valley, the senior running back topped that 228 yards of rushing and three touchdowns, with 247 and five touchdowns against Kendrick. The Tigers likely had a huge target on Teddy’s back, but he was apparently too fast for them to see it. On the other side of the ball, Teddy was credited for seven solo tackles.

Collin Kindall turned in another great performance on both sides of the ball. In addition to his 59 yards rushing on offense, Collin had five tackles on defense—two for a loss and three sacks. Collin suffered an ankle sprain in the third quarter and his spot as a defensive end was covered by Joseph Rodgers, who came in and did an admirable job. I suspect that Collin will be back next week and ready to go.

Week after week, Titan Senior Chip Mitchell continues to make amazing catches on offense and perfectly executed open-field tackles on defense. Chips 78 yards receiving and four extra-point receptions were equally matched by his 13 tackles, an assist, and two pass tips Friday night.

The term “amazing” my seem a little overused at this point, but nothing else seems quite as descriptive, so I’ll just go ahead and use it again. The Titan offense was nothing short of amazing, scoring on six of their seven possessions against Kendrick. The word “Punt” was never heard from the Titan sideline Friday night.

Other standouts on defense were Linebackers Orion Southwick and Logan Reyna. Orion registered ten tackles while Logan tallied five and an assist. Defensive End Parker Cornwell had five tackles and two sacks.

The Titan Coaching Staff should never be taken for granted. These men week after week seem to be on top of every situation. One such situation resulted in a severe knee injury for Cole Cooper Friday night. Being on the sideline is risky business and Cole took a pretty good hit during the game and will likely need some extensive repair work. Best of luck with that coach.

Assistant Coach Bobby Post is becoming well known for his inspirational and colorful dialogue before, during and after every game. He is to be credited for his now famous “We’ve had the appetizer, now on to the main course” metaphor. Keep it up coach!

The Titans will host Butte County from the Arco area this coming Friday at 4:00 p.m. in the semi-final. Let’s have another huge, noisy crowd for the Titans. They appreciate it!

Now, back to the “Remember the Titans.” Coach Boone, in Petey’s face questions emphatically, “you think football is fun? you think football is fun???  To which Petey says, “zero fun sir!”    Well, Tri-Valley fans would certainly hope the boys ARE having as much fun as we are watching them.  GO TITANS!!!