Football: Mustangs overpower Lemoore in 46-7 victory
Tulare Western scores 40 first half points against the Lemoore Tigers, looks forward to difficult matchup with Redwood
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
LEMOORE – No football coach will say that a win is necessarily easy, but a 40-0 first half and 46-7 final is as easy as they come.
Tulare Western put together a well rounded performance against the Lemoore Tigers on their way to their blowout road win. According to head coach Ryan Rocha, Lemoore’s defense lent itself to strong matchups on the outside. It was no surprise when quarterback Elijah Burrell hit Rolando Holmes on a wide receive screen that went for the game’s first touchdown.
“They ran 3-3 stack. Usually those defenses aren’t too adaptable so we liked our matchups there,” Rocha said.
The Mustangs’ second touchdown was on another pass, this time to wide receiver Mark Smith who beat one-on-one coverage. Smith ended the game with his one touchdown on three receptions and 27 yards. Then the defense got into the end zone when defensive tackle Isidro Salazar tipped a screen pass in the air and took it all of 10 yards to the house.
With the score board tallied at 20-0 by the end of the first quarter, the Mustangs put their foot on the gas.
Half way through the second quarter Burrell hit defensive stand out Mikey Ficher for an easy 20-yard pitch and catch touchdown. Up 27-0, Burrell found Ficher again, this time he caught it along the Tulare Western sideline and evaded would-be tacklers for 60 yards as he reversed field and scored. Rocha says this is the first time Ficher has been able to put his offensive talents to use in 2019.
“This is Ficher’s first offensive break out game. He’s a kid that makes his own destiny. If you get him the ball he’s going to do something with it,” Rocha said.
Despite Ficher’s flashy scores in the first half, Burrell had a quietly effective night. By the end the senior signal caller tossed five touchdowns, over 19 completions for 232 yards and a 132.7 quarterback rating. And had no interceptions.
Tulare Western put their running back to work. Just before half time the Mustangs took an interception by Jose Valencia and turned it into points when Alexander Avila plunged in from four yards out. The junior rusher put together 78 yards on 17 carries on the night.
But now the Mustangs turn to Tulare County’s showdown of the week against the Redwood Rangers. So far this season, Redwood has been red hot defeating Dinuba, head coach Kevin Scharton’s former team, in a close 28-25 battle. Then they made a statement defeating football powerhouse Tulare Union 28-8 last Friday on the road. Rocha says the key is getting his team mentally prepared to face a complete team.
“Preparing our kids minds is the biggest thing,” Rocha said. “Every game presents its own kind of challenge. Even last week with a running clock in the second half where kids can get complacent.”
Rocha added that his 17 returners have seen teams like Redwood before, but it is important this week to put in quality time in film study to prepare for the Rangers. Redwood and Tulare Western will kickoff in Visalia at the Mineral King Bowl this Friday, Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m.