Tribe on bye week after painful loss

Yuma High School’s football team will be looking to the future, while learning from a painful recent past, during its bye week.
The Indians are 1-1 while having this week off before traveling to Ault on September 17 to take on the Highland Huskies.

Yuma came tantalizingly close to a breakthrough win last Friday at perennial powerhouse Strasburg, losing 19-16 after leading for most of the game.
Yuma is No. 24 in the Class 1A Rating Percentage Index, which helps determine the 16-team playoff field, but has plenty of games left to make a move up the rankings. The Indians actually moved into the Class 1A Top 10 this week, despite the loss at No. 3 Strasburg.
While Yuma is off this week, there is plenty of North Central Conference action.

Photo by Scott Gerrard

Wiggins is 2-0 after blowing out 2A Valley last Thursday, 45-0, and hosts Olathe on Saturday at 11 a.m. Wray improved to 1-1 with a 30-0 win at Goodland, Kansas, last Friday. The Eagles host Estes Park on Saturday at 1 p.m. Top-ranked Limon opened its season last Saturday with a long trip to Meeker, winning 43-6, and now hosts Strasburg on Friday in the marquee matchup of the week in 1A. Holyoke is at Bridgeport, Nebraska, on Friday after opening its season last Friday with a long trip to Rye, winning 41-9. Burlington is 1-1 after winning 36-0 at 2A Lamar last Friday. The Cougars host neighboring Goodland on Friday at 7 p.m.
Strasburg has been to five straight 1A championship games since dropping down from 2A, winning titles in 2016 and 2017 before losing the last three to Limon — which happens to be Yuma’s next home opponent on October 1.
Still, the Tribe had every opportunity to win last Friday on the other Indians’ home field.
In the end, it was Strasburg’s ability to control the trenches the made the difference.
Both teams mostly stuck to the ground game, with Strasburg totaling 356 yards to 253 for Yuma. Strasburg ran 24 more plays than Yuma, and rushed for 332 yards while the Tribe had 184. Zach Marrero bedeviled the Tribe throughout the game as the 5-foot-7, 135-pound junior rushed for 154 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries, an average of 8.6 yards per carry.
Strasburg asserted itself early, marching downfield on its opening drive, capping it with quarterback Landen Martin’s six-yard TD run. The extra-point attempt kick was blocked, leaving Strasburg ahead 6-0.
However, the Tribe then ran off 16 straight points, setting itself up for a chance at a landmark win in the program’s effort to return to relevance in 1A football.
First up was Alex Lozano’s 33-yard field goal to pull within three, 6-3.
Yuma then capitalized midway through the second quarter with Clay Robinson connecting with John Smith for a 49-yard touchdown pass.
Leading 9-6 and having probably the best place-kicker in 1A in Lozano, the Indians chose to go for two instead of the extra point for a four-point lead. The two-point run attempt was snuffed by Strasburg, but Yuma still led 9-6.
Photo by Scott Gerrard
The defense got a stop on Strasburg’s next drive, but Robinson lost a fumble late in the quarter. Strasburg threatened to regain the lead, but the Yuma defense rose up again, tackling Marrero short of the goal line on the last play of the first half.
It was really looking promising for Yuma early in the second half when Robinson broke free for an 83-yard touchdown run. Lozano’s PAT was true for a 16-6 lead.
However, there was a lot of game left, and Strasburg answered with a ground-heavy drive capped by Marrero’s three-yard touchdown run. Yuma blocked the extra-point kick, though, to remain ahead 16-12.
The Tribe just could not mount anymore scoring threats as one more touchdown probably would have secured the victory.
Yuma’s defense came up with some key stops in the third and fourth quarters to maintain the four-point lead.
However, Strasburg finally put together a long, tortuous scoring drive.
The home team kept making just enough plays to keep the drive alive. There was one point where Strasburg was flagged for two penalties, one for a block in the back and another on the coach, but for some reason the penalty against the sideline was waved off, resulting in just a five-yard loss for Strasburg for the spot-foul blocking penalty.
Yuma hurt itself with some defensive penalties. Time kept ticking away to the point that if Yuma could rise up for the stop, the Tribe likely could run out the clock for the win, or Strasburg would score without giving Yuma much time to mount a winning drive.
Unfortunately, the latter occurred as Marrero ran 14 yards to the 1-yard line, and Martin scored on the sneak with 1 minute, 11 seconds left. The extra-point kick was good for a 19-16 Strasburg lead.
Forced to go to the air, Yuma went backwards on its last possession as Strasburg was able to escape with the win over the plucky Tribe.

Besides Smith’s long touchdown catch, he also was a rock on Strasburg’s runs to the outside as the cornerback led Yuma by being in on 12 total tackles. Kevin Hermosillo also was tough on the edge recording 10 tackles, Kallen Blach had a big game defensively by being in on 10 tackles. Daman Thornton was in on seven, Victor Perez four, Andre Baucke four, Lozano four, Yahir Trejo three, Robinson three, Trey Stegman three, Christian Quezada two, Ethan Gonzales two, Ezekial Martinez two, Lars Sims two, Jose Ruiz two, and Jesus Ross and Nash Richardson one each.
Robinson ran for 159 yards and one touchdown on 24 carriers, and Trejo had 24 yards on nine attempts. Robinson completed two of six passing attempts for 69 yards, the 49-yard TD pass to Smith and a 20-yard completion to Thornton.