The Tribe pulled off an extremely tough, but impressive feat earlier this month by bringing home their fourth consecutive Idaho Contact Football League Championship, with a 9-7 win over the Idaho Oilers.
Coming into the season, a 4-peat seemed unlikely for the The Tribe as the vast majority of the team retired following back-to-back undefeated seasons last year.
“The special thing was how we did it,” Tribe owner Justin Garcia told Developmental Football USA. “We did it with very few of our returning guys this year. We won three championships in a row with a solid group of core guys and we only actually returned six guys from last year. The six guys we had show up from the previous championship teams were good leaders and we were able to come out with an new team and win a fourth straight.”
In six years, The Tribe has played for five consecutive league championships and they took home trophies from the last four – winning 80 percent of championship games is extremely impressive. Heck, just winning 80 percent of all games is impressive.
The win gives the Tribe a 7-3 record on the year and drops the Oilers to 9-2. The Tribe had lost to the Oilers 13-7 on the road during the regular season, but they were able to win when it mattered most.
“We had been undefeated for two years, then we lost three games this year,” Garcia said. “We had some battling to do, some learning curves to do with new guys. We got hot at the right time, though.”
The Tribe scored first, but a missed extra point kept the game at just 6-0, until the Oilers got on the scoreboard on a long touchdown pass, and made their extra point to take a 7-6 lead. For much of the defensive battle, both teams fought back and forth with each other with no points to show for it.
“They didn’t get many first downs,” Garcia said.
With the game winding down and just one point standing between The Tribe and another title, they relied on their big men to get it done for them.
“We put it in the hands of our offensive line,” Garcia said. “We have a great offensive line and we drove down and our kicker, Jeff Dee, kicked a field goal. Then, they had a couple of opportunities to score, but our defense, ultimately, bended but we didn’t break.”
Offensively, the relentless effort of running back Donald White has been a big key to the success of The Tribe as well as do-it-all athlete Ira Liburd.
“He’s very selfless,” Garcia said. “He started and competed good and well at running back, wide receiver and quarterback. He was our team guy and he’s a great leader that led by example.”
Middle linebacker Tarent Tutogi and free safety Eric McClure have led the charge defensively for The Tribe.
“He brings an intensity to the game that’s unmatched from a play any age,” Garcia said. Tarent Tutogi is 38 years old, but he’s the hardest hitter on the field and he’s got a good nose for being around the football.
“Eric is the coach out there. He’s the captain. He’s the leader, and he’s always making sure everyone is in the right position.”
With the season in the books, The Tribe is open to playing other champions from the West Region and looking ahead to next year.
“I would like to get some interstate games going, but ultimately, we have our all-star game – we’re going to play the Oregon team,” Garcia said. “As for us, we’re going to go for five straight. We’re not going anywhere. It’s hard to get a team to travel to us in this valley, but we’re definitely striving for five – Strive for Five.”