Football: Rangers roll past Tribe in 28-8 win
Their defense was dominant and their offense made big plays, as Redwood earned their second win of the season
By Jermaine Johnson II @Jerm_10
TULARE – Two dominant teams met in Tulare on Friday, in a clash to stay unbeaten. The Tribe hosted the Rangers in what will likely be one of the toughest opponents they will face all season. After outscoring their opponents 99-31 in their first two games, they fell to Redwood 28-8 for their first loss.
The Rangers made big plays on both sides of the ball, jumping out to a 21-0 lead at the half. Their defense has been beyond dominant against the run during their first two games. After allowing less than 40 yards on the ground against Tulare Union, they have now allowed less than 60 yards through two games. This caused the Tribe to struggle as they had to rely on the arm of sophomore quarterback Jorge Gonzalez. While the team relied on his arm, Gonzalez had to rely on his legs just to get a throw off. He didn’t have much time to complete passes as the Redwood defensive line seemed to hurry every throw. Tulare Union Head Coach Darren Bennett emphasized that his team must do a better job protecting their young quarterback. “It’s tough when you can’t run the ball and you have a sophomore quarterback with five other sophomore receivers.”
The Tribe began with the ball first and completed a couple first down passes. They got a fourth and five and couldn’t convert, giving Redwood the ball. A bright spot for Tulare Union was their defense. They held the Rangers to only 18 rushing yards. “We have a good defense but we can’t keep giving up big plays,” said Bennett. “We’re at a point now where our defense is going to have to keep teams down so we can win.”
Big plays and good field position are what led to all of Redwood’s points. Their first score came after an interception by junior Dominick McCormack that gave his offense the ball on their own side of the field. Senior tight end Sam Olson followed that interception with a 40-yard caught up the right sideline before getting tackled at the 1-yard line. Senior Josh Richardson ran in the one-yard touchdown for the first points of the game. A botched snapped cause Redwood to fail the conversion, leaving the score at 6-0.
A lot of Tulare Union’s big plays came on special teams, beginning with a long kick return by sophomore Willie James that them up just shy of midfield. They struggled to move the ball against the tough Redwood defense and came up on a fourth and one. They were able to convert due to a defensive pass inference penalty. They had two more fourth downs on the drive and were able to convert the first on a pass to Willie James. They went back to James on fourth and three from the 12-yard line, but a great deflection by Redwood cornerback Malachi Aguilar forced the incompletion. Aguilar had the tough task of covering James all night, who has proven to be the team’s best playmaker.
Both defenses continued playing well, as the teams traded punts. A big play from Redwood led them to their next score. They had the ball on their own 25-yard line and threw a bubble screen to Olson who took it 75 yards for the touchdown. They converted the ensuing kick, pushing their lead to 13-0.
The Tribe special teams continued making big plays. Redwood kicked off to junior Xavier Hailey who had an excellent return that would have put his team in scoring position. Unfortunately for him, the play was called back due to a very questionable block in the back. According to Coach Bennett, penalties have been prevalent throughout the team’s last two games. “Last week we had a ton of penalties and a lot of them were questionable,” he said. “It hurts us and it is hard, when you have a lot of young guys, to come back from second and 20. When we get those penalties, it kills us.”
As a result of Hailey’s kick getting called back, Tulare Union had to begin their drive at their own 20. They moved the ball a bit, but a fumble ended their possession. Redwood responded with a deep 65 yard touchdown pass to senior Brian Brown. That was the last score of the half as the Rangers went into locker room up three scores.
The Tribe defense shut down the Rangers on their first possession of the second half, and the offense came out flying high. Willie James was a handful, lining up all over the field and making big catches. He ended with 10 catches for over 100 yards. Gonzalez led the team up the field completing passes to James and senior transfer John Hadley. Hadley transferred over from Mt. Whitney and is playing a key role in the Tulare Union offense. He scored the team’s lone touchdown on a pass from Gonzalez, and ended with eight receptions for 77 yards. They converted the two-point conversion and were back in the game. The score was 20-8 with about seven minutes left in the third.
The defense and special teams came through once again for the Tribe. They forced a punt that Hailey took the distance, but it was called back again due to another penalty. This sucked the life out of Tulare Union and they couldn’t get anything else going for the rest of the game. Redwood edge rusher Hudson Walker took over the game on defense. He got a sack on first down and then a tackle for loss on fourth down to give his offense the ball back. He seemed as itself the public announcer called Walker’s name on every single tackle or assisted tackle in the fourth quarter. The Rangers scored a final touchdown with six minutes left to seal the game.
Redwood has another tough matchup at home against Tulare Western. Both teams are undefeated, and the Mustangs have outscored their opponents 154 to 27. The two team’s have history, as Redwood beat Tulare Western for 35 years straight, before losing the last two years.