Football: Redwood rallies late to defeat Golden West
Rangers win 42-38 despite five touchdowns between the Wessel brothers
Special to The Sun-Gazette
VISALIA – Redwood narrowly defeated Golden West last Friday night, holding on to the team’s winning streak. The Rangers played from behind or remained tied with the Blazers throughout the game, but Redwood pulled it together in the fourth quarter with a final score of 42-38.
Golden West (5-2, 1-1), started off strong against Redwood, (7-0, 2-0). Not even a minute into the game at Mineral King Bowl, Golden West’s Lonnie Wessel ran down the middle for a 30-yard touchdown on the third play of the game. Redwood’s side went silent.
With a 7-0 lead, the Blazers went on to shut Redwood down forcing a turnover on downs right away. Golden West set the tone early and came out ready to break Redwood’s undefeated streak.
“We knew they were going to be physical so we just prepared for that,” Golden West head coach Paul Preheim said about the Blazers’ practices last week.
But Redwood kept their composure toward the end of the quarter. Key rushes from running backs Caden Shafer and Diamond Davis put the Rangers on the 8-yard line to end the quarter. Within 5 seconds of the second quarter, Ryan Rios connected with Sam Olson for an 8-yard touchdown catch.
On the following kickoff return, Malachi Aguilar ran it back all the way for a 95-yard touchdown. Redwood prepared for the 2-point conversion and Caden Shafer sliced the defense and found an opening in the end zone to tie the game.
Miscommunication by Redwood’s defense allowed Michael Wessel to walk into the endzone’s left side. Aguilar succeeded in blocking Golden West’s point after try.
With about two minutes left in the half, Davis broke through Golden West’s defense on a 51-yard run and was able to find the end zone. Terry’s kick was good and put the team up by one point.
Quickly crushing Redwood’s lead, Lonnie Wessel and Victor Frias’ rushes put the Blazers on the 3-yard line. Once again, Michael Wessel found a opening and took it into the end zone on the left side. Following the touchdown, his brother pierced through the middle bringing two more points to the scoreboard.
The score stood at 28-21 as Golden West ended the half on a high note with the lead.
Within seven minutes left of the quarter, Redwood’s James Richardson took the ball to the 1-yard line and Marcus Correia finished with a final rush through the middle to tie the game again. No further action occurred the rest of the quarter.
Within seconds of the fourth quarter, Michael Wessel rushed into the right side endzone for his third touchdown of the game.
From here, action started to pick up as both teams tried to pull ahead before time expired. Redwood responded as Rios connected with Brian Brown on a 32-yard pass. Richardson was able to rush for about 9 yards and the possession ended in another touchdown as Brown received a short pass running in for a 13-yard touchdown.
Within the next few possessions, Golden West scrambled to gain yardage and answered with another touchdown. Redwood held them to four downs and forced Alberto Nunez to punt the field goal instead of giving up a touchdown. The kick was good on the 25-yard line with less than two minutes to go in the game.
On a 56-yard connection, Rios finds Brown who proceeded to drag a Golden West defender for about 20 more yards before going down around the 14-yard line. Shafer then was able to rush to the 10 on the third down.
“I had that play in my back pocket for when we absolutely needed it. We needed our line to block, our quarterback to set his feet and make the throw, and of course get the guy open to get the ball and it just so happened to all work out perfect when they execute like that,” Scharton said on the trick play using Olson as a decoy to get Brown wide open.
On the fourth down, Golden West completed a costly false start moving the ball to the 5-yard line as Redwood also gained the first down.
Correia was able to find the endzone again powering through the middle leaving 1:06 on the clock for Golden West to counter.
The score stood at 42-38 as the seconds wound down. Quarterback Dominick Garcia threw a deep pass, which Aguilar was able to intercept as Redwood’s stands and sidelines erupted in cheers.
“It’s nice to have depth, having everybody stick together as a team and the kids are showing up for practice, they’re excited, we don’t have any complaints and everyone knows their role on this team,” Coach Kevin Scharton said prior to Friday night’s win.
On the other end, the Wessel brothers were a standout to any spectator as they participated on both offense and defense. Between the two, they accounted for 322 out of 364 total yards by the Blazers. Michael with three touchdowns, totaled 177 yards and Lonnie with 145 plus two more touchdowns.
“They’re going to continue to play a big part throughout the season, they’re great players and only juniors so I’m excited that they’re playing for us,” Preheim said.
The duo’s accolades and the Blazers’ Wing-T offense was not enough for the Rangers.
“The fans were getting their money’s worth, I thought it was a great high school football game,” Preheim said. “This is why we do it, to have games like this, it’s sad we lost but these guys are going to remember this game for a long time.”