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Yuma High loses late against Walden Grove
More yards. More plays. More time of possession.
Most stats pointed to a Yuma High win over Sahuarita-Walden Grove on Friday at Doan Field.
But the Red Wolves got two big screen passes, while the Criminals didn’t have any big plays when they needed them in a 21-14 loss.
Of the two scoring drives for the Criminals (1-4), one was a two-play, 11-yard drive set up by a Walden Grove fumble, and one was a 74-yard drive that took nine plays, aided by a pair of 15-yard runs by Arturo Vargas — one of which was for a touchdown. The first drive, capped by a 1-yard run by Chance Hamilton, gave Yuma High a 6-0 lead. The Vargas run on the first play of the fourth quarter put Yuma High up 14-7 — the Criminals had a safety on the Red Wolves’ second drive of the game to go up 8-0.
Yuma High coach Tom Fox, who said any blame for the loss starts with him, said without a big-play guy, scoring is tough.
“To take 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kids and to ask them to correctly run 12, 14 plays in a row without a mistake — holding on to the football without a 10-yard holding penalty — it’s very, very hard,” Fox said. “I consider myself a good coach and I have a hard time doing that. When you have to snap it 13, 14 times to get points, that’s hard to do in high school. If you can’t get some of those three- or four-play drives, it’s going to be a long night for you. Tonight we got two good drives, we need three to tie and maybe four to win.”
After Vargas scored, the Red Wolves (3-3) started their drive on the Yuma High 48 thanks to a big kick return by Emerick Martinez. They converted two third downs — they were 0 for 6 on third down entering the drive — including a third-and-15. Quarterback Carlos Martinez found Carter Blouin on a screen, and he took off 26 yards to the 9. On fourth-and-5, Carlos Martinez scrambled in for the tying score with 6:04 left.
“As coaches we expect them to do this,” Walden Grove coach Christopher Sargent said of his senior-less team, which is fielding a varsity program for the first time this season. “Because we expect them to do it, they expect themselves to do it. And they’re more than capable of doing it. We have a lot of talent on that team and it’s starting to surface. It’s a pleasure to watch it come of age every single week. They are starting to believe in themselves and it’s a pleasure to watch.”
On its next possession, Yuma High couldn’t get into Walden Grove territory and failed to convert on a fourth-and-8 from the 45. The Red Wolves took over with 2:09 left, and 65 seconds later Martinez and Blouin connected on another screen, this one 38 yards for the touchdown.
“That one sucked,” Fox said. “It really hurt, but at least I know there are some kids that cared, kids that really sold out and you just ask them to bring that effort to everything they do in life and they’re going to be OK. Then there are other kids that need to make the determination — if you are going to do anything, do it well or don’t do it. That’s it. It hurts. We just couldn’t put the ball away in the first quarter. And we didn’t, from a football standpoint that hurts the most, probably.”
The Red Wolves had only 131 yards of total offense in the game compared with 258 for the Criminals, but the Red Wolves had those two big screen passes. Yuma High’s biggest play was a 34-yard pass from Jeremy Conde to David Stiles with 43 seconds left in the game. Conde’s next pass was his second interception of the game when he overthrew Samuel Clark. Before the big pass, Yuma had no plays of more than 20 yards.
“There’s a couple guys that really, really cared, that gave themselves everything they had,” Fox said. “When I asked the kids (who gave everything they had), I think too many kids raised their hands. The program has to get better, starting with me.”
The Criminals got two solid rushing performances from Vargas (17 carries, 89 yards) and Marcus Ramos (16-68) as they amassed 190 yards on the ground. Conde was 5-for-16 with two interceptions.
Fox, who said he was impressed with the play of Alec Sanchez, who had an interception in the third quarter for the Criminals, said it’s hard for the team to overcome any penalties. They committed five in the game for 40 yards.
“We are nowhere near good enough to overcome 5-yard false start penalties, let alone 10-yard holding penalties. At least most of them were effort penalties. The holding penalty, at least the guy was out there hustling. We didn’t have a lot of the silly penalties. But we could have put it away in the first quarter and we didn’t.”