Exeter comes up short against Kingsburg
The Monarchs drop to 3-3 with close 21-14 loss to Kingsburg, fall to 0-1 in CSL play
By Jermaine Johnson II @Jerm_10
EXETER – Despite the outcome of the game, the Monarchs sent a loud message to rest of the Central Sequoia League: they can compete against any team.
Despite not having starting quarterback Gavin Diaz due to an injury, they were still able to go back and forth all game with the undefeated Kingsburg Vikings. With a minute remaining, they were knocking on the door of the end zone with a chance to tie the game, but ultimately fell to 3-3 after a heartbreaking loss. Nonetheless, Coach Keirsten Lamb believes that the team has turned a corner.
“No one thought we were going to be close to them,” he said. “We turned a corner in terms of focus, attitude, and ability.”
The Monarchs received the ball to start the game, but couldn’t get much going offensively. The Vikings got on the board first with about three minutes remaining in the first quarter after a 42-yard touchdown run by junior Blake Spomer. He scored again to open the second quarter giving the Vikings a 14-0 lead. He ended with 123 yards and three touchdowns.
That’s when sophomore Dewayne Coleman gave new life to the entire Monarch stadium. He received the ensuing kick off and made a 95-yard house call to the end zone. Just like that, the Monarchs were back in the game with some much needed momentum.
“That kickoff return really ignited us,” said Lamb. The defense came up with a big stop and got the offense the ball back. They put together a long drive that ended in a two-yard touchdown run by senior Nathaniel Heath. In addition to that score, he ended with 74 rushing yards for the game. The Monarchs went into halftime tied at 14 with one of the top teams in the central section. According to Lamb, the players were fired up and had some much needed confidence.
“We knew you had the ability to be here you just had to believe in yourself” Lamb said to his team during the break. “The light bulbs were flicking on for them. They had no idea how good they can be if they cut out the little mistakes.”
Sophomore Jake Rowlett got his first varsity start at quarterback during the team’s first league game of the season against their toughest opponent. He ended with nine completions for 127 yards, but more importantly he had zero turnovers which is impressive for a young quarterback.
“We tried to keep things simple for him as far as reads and what we wanted to do. He protected the ball, ran well, and put drives together that continued to move the chains. It was fun to watch him work,” said Lamb.
Diaz’s injury isn’t believed to be serious, but it is one that has bothered him for a while. As a result, Rowlett was called up to varsity to prepare for the day that Diaz couldn’t go. Since he is only a sophomore, the team will have the chance to groom Rowlett for the future.
The second half of the game was an intense defensive match up. There was only one score and it came on a 22-yard run by Spomer to give Kingsburg a seven point lead. The Monarchs were able to put together a strong drive at the end of the game to get the ball inside the 5-yard line, but they were stuffed on fourth down by the Vikings.
“Our kids grew a bunch, but came up short” said Lamb. “We know to make it to postseason we have to scrape up two more wins. I truly believe if they play how they played [against Kingsburg], we’re going to get those two wins.”