Interest builds in big alumni showdown

By Ray Hamill — The McKinleyville Panthers will host the Arcata Tigers in an alumni football game at the end of the month, and both teams are still looking to add interested players to their rosters.

“We’re always looking for more players,” said McKinleyville head coach Keoki Burbank, who organizes the event as a fundraiser. “And if people want to donate, it’s a big fundraiser for the program.”

The game will be played at McKinleyville High School on March 30, with both squads planning practice sessions in the two weeks leading up to the event.

Curran Sanchez will coach the Arcata alumni, while Dale Cash and Isaac Cash will coach the McKinleyville squad.

“It’s a good way to get the community back together and relive the rivalry,” Burbank said.

Last year, 45 players showed up to don the pads and relive some of the glory days with their old teammates and alumni.

This year the participation fee will be reduced from $60 to just $15.

The list of players who have already signed on to play includes current McKinleyville offensive line coach Nikander Jonte, who will switch allegiances for one game to play for the Tigers, his alma mater.

The versatile Shawn Johnston, who played a number of different positions at both Mack High and College of the Redwoods, will be flying in for the occasion, while recent graduate Sheldon Strong will also be suiting up.

For more information on the game, or to sign up to play, you can email Burbank at

You can also visit the game’s Facebook page.

This is the last year the game will be played in the spring, with plans to play it as a part of the Pony Express Days Festival in June next year.

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