The Yuma Catholic Shamrocks led by two late Friday night inside a packed Ricky Gwynn Stadium.
With the game on the line, there was no debate whether or not coach Rhett Stallworth would keep the offense on the field with YC facing a 4th-and-6 from the Brawley (Calif.) 11-yard line.
Senior quarterback Gage Reese lined up in shotgun formation and delivered a perfectly positioned ball for junior wide receiver Jonah Leon, extending the Shamrocks lead to eight with just 2:22 remaining on the clock, a critical play in a 50-35 YC win.
“We live by the sword and die by the sword,” Stallworth said. “You can see how we play, when you’ve got momentum, you have to do something to keep it going. It’s just how we play. Sometimes our offense is our best defense.”
The Shamrocks’ offense, on the drive that ended in Leon’s touchdown, marched 55 yards in 11 plays.
Leon was the go-to-guy that possession, reeling in six catches for 68 yards and catching the biggest touchdown of the night. The junior receiver also flashed some highlight moments, pulling in a spectacular one-hand catch to put YC up 28-21 in the second quarter.
“He’s (Leon) really good,” Reese said. “He’s always there when I need him. He always shows up in big time moments.”
However, it wasn’t smooth sailing all night for the Shamrocks; the 50-35 win over the Brawley (Calif.) Wildcats had to be earned.
Two weeks ago, following the 45-17 defeat to Northwest Christian, coach Stallworth questioned the heart and fight of his football team and on Friday night his team had to battle.
The fight began early, and lasted all 48 minutes, after the Wildcats opened their night with a 59-yard touchdown run to quickly take a 7-0 lead. And early in the fourth quarter, the Shamrocks trailed by one.
This YC team two weeks ago would have folded, but on Friday night they fought every down, making big play after big play.
In particular, Reese had to bounce back from an interception early in the third quarter that ultimately led to the Wildcats taking the lead. He remained true to the scheme and rallied, tossing two of his six touchdowns in crucial moments late in the fourth quarter.
Stallworth discussed the bounce back game from his quarterback and what he saw from him on Friday night.
“Gage manned up,” Stallworth said. “He owned his mistakes. I’ll give Gage credit, he manned up. He took his butt chewin’, went back out there and threw the ball well.”
Despite their efforts, Stallworth still questions the consistency of his football team.
“I still question moments,” Stallworth said. “When you’re starting a lot of young sophomores, they make sophomore mistakes. Sometimes I question our fortitude and other times they rise up.
“We’re just inconsistent right now and we have to solve that. That comes with age and even some of the older guys need to let go and trust the system.”
YC (2-1) will need to find their stride this week in practice as they host powerhouse American Leadership Academy (4-0) next Friday night. The Patriots are outscoring their opponents by nearly 40 points a game and this will be a huge test for Stallworth and his team.