AWFC Indoor Football Title Game Saturday in Pasco, WA

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Tri-City Rush running back Keithon Fleming leads the field in a game earlier this year in Pasco.

Courtesy of Florentino Gutierrez

It’s been 16 years since an indoor football team hosted a league game.

In 2005, the Tri-Cities Fever defeated the Georgia Rome Renegades 47-31 at the Tri-Cities Coliseum (now the Toyota Center) to win the National Indoor Football League to a full house.

On Saturday night, the Tri-City Rush plays host to defending American West Football Conference champion the Idaho Horsemen in the league title game called American West Bowl II.

Kick-off will take place on September 4 at 8 p.m. at the HAPO Center (formerly TRAC) in Pasco.

Rush owner and head coach Brandon Tate is enjoying the excitement the team is creating in the community. He certainly saw this situation about six months ago

“It was pretty exciting,” Tate said. “I imagined that I had always wanted to have a champion team. But realistically, this year I wanted to bring it all together. “

That meant putting together a roster, finding a facility where the team could play, then finding the right equipment needed to play – like scoreboards, turf, etc.

But this? A title game?

“Now we’re in a league game and we can host it at home. It went pretty well, ”Tate said.

Last year, Tate volunteered his team’s services to assist the AWFC when the Tri-City Fire retreated just before the start of the season.

Tate’s semi-professional away team, the Tri-City Rage, would play the Fire’s road games so that the remaining AWFC teams do not lose any home games.

Everything quickly became moot when COVID closed the season.

But AWFC management took note and it allowed Tate to become part owner with his own team.

But maybe the other owners weren’t expecting the Rush to finish 8-2 ​​and become the playoff seed.

The team has multiple weapons, starting with quarterback Les Obie, who has more than 40 touchdowns this season.

“Our general manager (Matthew Cooley) stumbled upon his flagship movie,” Tate said.

Obie was playing in California, and Tate brought him here after everyone determined that Obie’s schedule would be suitable for spending time here.

“Its main strength is its quick release,” Tate said. “It’s a John Elway type outing. It’s the fastest I’ve seen.

Still, what hampered opposing teams was Rage’s DeShon / Dashun attack.

Perhaps the Rush’s greatest strength is its outward speed at the receiver DaShon Williams and Dashun Salgado Jr.

Williams is from the University of Washington and caught the interest of the Seattle Seahawks this summer.

The 6-4, 230-pounder who played for the University of Washington can play the tight end. But in indoor play, Williams can be devastating for a small cornerback like a wideout.

Salgado is Obie’s first target.

But passing isn’t everything in the indoor game.

The Rush have faced the Horsemen three times this season. He lost in Idaho on July 3 by a score of 61-48, but won the next two games – both in Pasco – by scores of 46-39 and 47-40.

“The main key is what we learned after the first game against Idaho is to have a consistent running game,” Tate said.

By doing this, the team could control the ball and keep it out of the hands of the Idaho offense.

Whatever happens on Saturday night at the HAPO Center, it has been a dream season for Tate and his team.

“A lot of people were pretty skeptical after the fever started and then the fire started,” Tate said.

But the team and the game developed on the premises.

There are plenty of title spots tonight, and how many times can we see a championship competition?

“We definitely have seats available,” Tate said. “(All of this has) been a success, certainly more than we could imagine.”

Tickets are available on www.tricityrush.com/tickets, or at the door. … Idaho qualified for the title game by beating the Oregon High Desert Storm 55-37 last Monday on the road.

Jeff Morrow is the former sports editor of the Tri-City Herald.

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