A previous iteration of the Ontario Tigers takes on the Baker Bulldogs. (Brandon Ragsdale/For the Enterprise)

ONTARIO – Tigers Coach Greg Simmons said his six returning starters to the Ontario High School football team carry the potential to be impact players.

Ontario kicked off its regular season Sept. 3 with a 54-8 loss to Homedale and was originally set to face Fruitland last Friday but that contest was canceled.

The Tigers will now gear up for Friday’s game with Nyssa in Nyssa at 7 p.m.

Of Ontario’s six veterans, four are seniors and two are juniors.

“It’s the seniors’ turn to step up and take on the leadership role as they have many starts under their belts. We are hoping for some big things out of new starters. There’s lots of potential with this group,” said Simmons.

The Tigers finished 1-4 during the Covid-abbreviated spring season.

Simmons said the brightest spot for the Tiger grid squad now is “their daily commitment since we started in August.”

“There are a lot of distractions around still with Covid, but I think getting back to school, being in the building, seeing their friends and teammates in the hallways, has reenergized them a little bit,” said Simmons.

Simmons said the Tigers will not face an easy schedule.

“We roll into league with teams who are also making deep playoff runs every year,” said Simmons.

How the team responds will be key, said Simmons.

“We have to accept the challenge, use it as extra motivation and also remind ourselves that we belong with those teams,” said Simmons.

The Ontario coach said games with Vale, Nyssa, La Grande and Baker will be tough.

“Everything I’ve heard is that the numbers are up on each program,” said Simmons.

Simmons said he is optimistic.

“We are excited to see how close we can get to our potential this year,” he said. “We feel we’ve got the athletes to sling the ball around the field as well and keep opponents on their heels.”

Ontario will utilize a spread offensive attack this year, said Simmons.

“We like to run the ball with active, mobile linemen and put the ball in the hands of several different players,” he said.

Simmons said the Tigers are “in a good situation.”

“I’m excited to see all of our players, freshman through seniors, compete to their greatest potential,” said Simmons.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

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