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Crims' Baker steals show against Gila Ridge
J.C. Baker stole the spotlight in the first varsity game in Gila Ridge history, turning the game into a showcase for the Yuma High running back.
Baker had 452 yards of total offense and all six Criminal touchdowns as the Crims held on for a 40-26 win again their newest crosstown rivals.
The Criminals ran just three plays in the first quarter - all touchdowns involving Baker. The first was a 77-yard screen pass on the first play from scrimmage in the contest. After a long but scoreless Hawks drive, Yuma quarterback Donte Jackson tried to connect with Louis Aguilar downfield, but the ball bounced off the receiver's hands and right to Baker's, who was behind the defense and went 81 yards for the score.
Another long-but-scoreless drive by the Hawks led to a 91-yard run by Baker on the first play of Yuma's third drive and an 18-0 lead.
"I think my lineman did great blocking for me all game," Baker said. "Without them, I'd be nothing."
After Yuma opened up a 32-6 lead on the Hawks in the season opener for both teams, Gila Ridge - playing without injured starting quarterback Corey Semler, who left the game in the second quarter - scored the next 20 points to cut the lead to six with 6:52 left.
Yuma started a drive on its 28, but the Gila Ridge defense held on a third-and-5, dropping the Crims to 0-for-6 on third-down conversions in the contest.
The Hawks got the ball with a chance to tie or even take the lead. But with normal linebacker Michael Pancrazi in at quarterback - he had never taken a snap, said coach Simon Ocampo - Ocampo decided to punt from his own 21, relying again on his defense, which had shut down the Crims on the last two drives.
But on the first play after the punt, Baker tore off a 66-yard run, Jackson ran in the two-point conversion and Yuma held on for the win.
Gila Ridge used a modified version of the A-11 offense in the contest. The normal version, developed last year by a California high school, uses two quarterbacks, a center, two tight ends and six receivers with every player on the field eligible - an offense legal because the quarterback lines up seven yards behind the line of scrimmage, making it technically a kick formation.
The Gila Ridge version - called 'Cali' - featured just one quarterback but resulted in some of Pancrazi's longest runs, as the makeshift QB finished with 55 rushing yards and two scores but was just 4-for-13 passing with 18 yards and an interception.
Dontae Gilmore finished with a team-high 111 yards on the ground, including a 79-yard touchdown run.