If you have been missing the sights and sounds of football, the Tri-City Rage is here for you.
“We want to give the fans a show,” said Quintin Adams, who plays defense and helps the team with media and marketing. “They are coming for an experience. We are not the NFL, but we are the best you are going to get in the offseason.”
The Rage, which plays in the Pacific Football League, will play a nine-game schedule, starting at 6 p.m. Saturday against the Yakima Mavericks at Lampson Stadium.
Tickets are $10 at the gate, but fans can purchase a season ticket for $20 that will cover the five home games.
“We want to make it affordable,” Adams said. “Everyone loves football. We want to fill Lampson Stadium. People call me crazy, but Washington State, which has not been that good lately, can put 68,000 people at Martin Stadium.”
And if the lure of football isn’t enough, there are a lot of former local players on the roster, including Tony Coburn (Pasco), Kyle Sutphin (Kamiakin), Brandon Mitchell (Southridge), Blake Shoenburg (River View), Daniel Gannon (Prosser, Central Washington), Kory Morgan (Hermiston), Mike Harvey (Othello) and Calvin Brown (Southridge).
Throw in former Kennewick Lion Layton Brown at quarterback/linebacker, and you have the foundation for a good team.
Brown played at Whitworth and played pro ball in Europe for the Porvoo Butchers, a team in the American Football Association of Finland (SAJL).
“Some have played in college, some never went to college and some had injuries that kept them from playing,” Adams said. “Some could be playing at the next level, but they don’t want to play for the (Tri-Cities) Fever. That is not football for them. The Tri-Cities is craving a football team. The Fever gives them a quick fix, but it is not hard-hitting football.”
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While the Rage is in its first season, there have been several area “semi-pro” football teams over the years, including the Tri-City Knights, Waitsburg Elite and the Blue Mountain Stars, which featured former River View quarterback Brett Jay, now the head football coach at Hanford High School.
“All the diehard football players stick with it,” Rage coach Brandon Tate said of the PFL. “It is high level, quick-paced and hard hitting. I started playing in 2004. I was league MVP one year, then I got old. I wanted to stay with it, so I took over coaching the Waitsburg Elite.”
Tate, a 2003 graduate of Waitsburg High School, first played with the Walla Walla Stars, who played their games in Waitsburg.
“We then moved to Burbank and won a couple of championships as the Blue Mountain Stars with Brett Jay at quarterback,” Tate said. “Then we got a new owner and moved to Hermiston, where we were the Hurricanes. That team disbanded, and the guys went to Umatilla.”
The Waitsburg Elite popped up in 2012. When they dissolved, Wyatt Smith stepped in as an owner, Tate resumed his coaching duties and 15 of the Rage players were part of the Waitsburg Elite.
“Tri-City is centrally located, and our No. 1 priority in the offseason was to move to the Tri-City community,” Tate said. “The community has gotten behind us, and it has been nice.”
Though Tate said he loves the coaching aspect of the game, he does miss playing.
“It’s tough not playing,” he said. “I still suit up every once in a while in practice. Nothing really replaced being out on the field.”
The Rage is a pay-to-play team, as is every team in the PFL. Each player pays $200 to join, plus their jersey. This way, if any player has a desire to play college football in the future, their eligibility still is intact. Plus, there will be game film to offer.
The team also plans to offer a youth football camp in August.
“We really want to be part of the community,” Adams said.
Home games at 6 p.m. at Lampson Stadium
May 7 vs. Yakima Mavericks
May 14 at Spokane Wolfpack
May 21 vs. Puget Sound Outlaws
June 4 vs. Renton Ravens
June 11 at Pierce County bengals
June 18 at Clark County Vipers
June 25 vs. Thurston County Mayhem
July 9 at Cowlitz Cobras
July 16 vs. Kitsap Storm, 7 p.m.