New-look Tigers look to continue their recent success

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – The Tigers in action at last week’s scrimmage.

By Ray Hamill — A new-look Arcata Tigers program will try to continue its recent run of success on the football field when the new season kicks off at Eureka on Friday night.

Last year, the Tigers rolled to an 8-4 record, including finishing 5-1 in the Little 4 and clinching the league title.

However, with MVP-caliber stars like Shane Purcell, Carson Tucker and Alex Jioras all now graduated and a new head coach in place, the Tigers will feature a different look in 2022.

The good news is that new head coach Matt Magers is familiar with the players and the program after serving as the Tigers’ offensive coordinator under Jamal Jones for the past five years.

And that should make for an easier transition.

Magers got a first look at this year’s team in action during a preseason scrimmage at Fortuna last weekend.

“I felt like it was a good learning experience for a lot of our younger players,” he said. We are going to be very young this year.”

The new head coach will rely on a handful of key returning players to help set the tone, especially in what should be a very competitive Little 4.

Senior Jared Wallace is back to anchor the line, while sophomore Wilson Medina is back after a breakout season in the offensive backfield as a freshman in 2021.

Also back are two-way starters Cedar Birdsall (WR/DB), Mason Taylor (WR/CB) and Ryder Meyer (OL/DE), as well as junior Oscar Carlson, who will make the switch from receiver to quarterback.

“He’s a good athlete and a smart kid and we’ll see what he can do at quarterback,” Magers said of Carlson.

The Tigers will be tested right off the bat against the largest school in the H-DNL and a Eureka program that usually is competitive.

And the new Arcata coach is expecting a battle.

“They’re always physical and they’re always big,” he said of the Loggers. “And they’re always well coached.”

Wilson is one of a core group of younger players that will be expected to carry this program going forward, along with the likes of sophomore linebacker Jackson Strand and freshman Nathaniel Stiles, who will start at center.

“We’ve got lots of athletes everywhere,” Magers said. “We’re trying to figure out what to do with all our pieces. We have some outstanding young players.”

The new head coach, who oversaw the team’s dynamic offense last season, believes his team will be in position to challenge for a league title again when the Little 4 gets under way in early October.

“I always expect to challenge for a league title,” said Magers, who added that his favorite matchups of the season are against their Little 4 rivals.

Magers will have a young staff of assistants and will be joined on the sidelines by recent Arcata graduates Matt Jioras and Coleman Barker.

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