Not bad. Not bad at all.
Or, to put it in a more-positive way, great job; great job indeed.
In a most unusual of seasons, the Yuma High School football team closed out the shortened 2020 campaign with a 58-6 shellacking of visiting Prospect Ridge Academy, Friday night, even with several varsity players unavailable due to injuries and COVID-19 quarantines, and with JV players filling most of the positions for the last 2-1/2 quarters and not dropping off a beat.
The Indians finished 4-3, following last year’s 6-4 playoff season.
It is the first time the YHS program has posted back-to-back winning seasons since the 2009-10 campaigns, winning three of its last four games.
The Indians opened 2020 on a Monday night, October 12, at defending state champion and top-ranked Limon, after the program was shorthanded throughout the preseason practices while a significant number of players were on COVID-19 quarantine.
Predictably, the Indians lost badly at Lloyd Gaskill Field.
However, they rebounded with a blowout win over Platte Canyon the next week, but then produced arguably their most-disappointing effort of the 2020 season, a 40-0 home loss to the Highland Huskies.
Everyone within Yuma’s program, though, kept battling and improving, and with some key lineup changes, played very well the rest of the season. That included a loss at rival Wray in which the Indians led 9-6 at halftime, and wins over Burlington, Wiggins and Prospect Ridge Academy.
Wray, after falling behind 7-0, rolled to a blowout win over Hotchkiss last Saturday afternoon at Powell Field, advancing to Saturday afternoon’s 1A semifinal at Limon. The Badgers, after a two-week COVID-induced layoff to close out the regular season, rolled over eighth-seed Holyoke on Saturday to set up the Limon-Wray semifinal on Saturday. (Yuma did not play Holyoke in this year’s shortened six-game regular season.)
Yuma initially had scheduled 2A University for its seventh non-playoff game. However, when it became apparent the program would have up to 20 or more players out due to COVID-19, or quarantine protocols, or injuries, the school canceled that game and instead picked up fellow 1A program PRA, a school out of Broomfield that went 2-4 in the regular season.
Turns out the Indians probably could have had a good run against University, which was blown out by Highland in another non-playoff game last weekend.
It worked out well in the end, though, as everyone on the Yuma team got to have a positive experience ending this weird 2020 season, and set the table for hopefully more good times to come in the future for Yuma football.
Several key seniors and juniors had to miss last Friday’s game due to the variety of reasons listed above. However, everyone else was ready to roll, thanks to a coaching staff that has kept the players focused as the season progressed.
It did not hurt that junior Clay Robinson was among those who still got to play last Friday, along with seniors such as Juan Cortes, Lane Remmich, Kevin Hermosillo, Louden Blach and Eduardo Corral — all of whom made key contributions to the Indians running out to a big lead before mostly retiring to the bench prior to halftime, giving way to the younger players to set the tone for a promising 2021 season.
With Robinson starting his fourth straight game at quarterback, and really nothing to lose, the Indians decided to test out its little-used passing game. It produced a long completion to Hermosillo, and an even-longer TD pass to Remmich. However, both were negated by penalties.
Undeterred, the Indians simply reverted to the ground game to complete the game’s first possession as Robinson ran for 42 yards on two plays, including a 15-yard touchdown run. He then ran in the 2-point conversion for an 8-0 lead with 4 minutes, 23 seconds left in the first quarter.
Prospect Ridge responded with a 44 yard pass, then and then a touchdown to cut Yuma’s lead to 8-6 less than two minutes later.
However, it was all-Yuma, all the time after that.
A return by Corral to the 45 set up Yuma in good field position. The Indians put together a scoring drive capped by sophomore Ethan Goeglein’s 11-yard touchdown run for a 14-6 lead with seconds left in the first.
Sophomore Jesus Ross recovered a fumbled lateral pass by PRA on its next possession, setting up Robinson’s 20-yard touchdown run. Robinson then completed a Tim Tebow-like jump pass to Hermosillo for the 2-point conversion and a 22-6 lead just 20 seconds into the second quarter.
After another Yuma defensive stop, Robinson broke off a 70-yard touchdown run, for a 30-6 lead.
Ross came up with an interception on PRA’s next possession, setting the stage for Robinson’s 30-yard touchdown run followed by his own 2-point conversion run for a 36-6 lead with more than seven minutes left in the second quarter.
Robinson was done for the night at that point, rushing for 202 yards and four touchdowns in 1-1/2 quarters, and breaking the 1,000-yard rushing mark in less than 6-1/2 games. It was the second game in which he broke the 200-yard rushing mark in his junior-season campaign.
The younger guys, mixed in with some of the older guys, did not miss a beat.
After another defensive stop, the Indians’ converted a fourth-and-one on its next possession, then Hermosillo broke off a 47-yard run, setting up sophomore quarterback Nash Bridges’ 2-yard TD run, and then Goeglein’s 2-point conversion run for a 44-6 lead with 30 seconds left before halftime.
Goeglein sprinted for a 52-yard run on Yuma’s first possession of the second half, setting up Ross’ 11-yard TD run up the middle for a 50-6 lead.
(Yuma kicker Alex Lozano missed the game due to an injury suffered against Wray last week, so the Indians went for two after every touchdown.)
It was a running clock by that time as Yuma held such a big lead.
Still, the Indians found one more opportunity to score with Jack Blecha capping a long drive with a nine-yard touchdown run, followed by Richardson’s 2-point conversion run for a 58-6 lead with 3:46 left.
All in all, a great performance by YHS football players of all ages lucky enough to line up for one more game in 2020.
The Indians rolled up 415 total yards on offense, compared to 225 for Prospect Ridge.
Yuma gained 409 yards rushing, averaging 10.8 yards per attempt. Besides Robinson’s big night in less than one half, Goeglein ran for 107 yards and a score on 14 carries, Hermosillo 51 yards on two carries, Ross 33 yards and a TD on two carries, Blecha 17 yards and a score on two carries, and Kallen Blach, Richardson and Damon Thornton toted the ball in the win.
Robinson completed three of four passes for six yards, and could have had a lot more if not penalties. K. Blach had one catch for 11 yards.
Defensively, Cortes was in on six tackles, Ethan Gonzales five, Andre Baucke five, K. Blach five, Ross five, Thornton four, Victor Perez three, Richardson three, Corral two, Hermosillo two, Blecha two, Robinson one, Nathan Etl one, Carson Lynch one, Remmich one, Cesar Varela one, Kyler Goeglein one, Will Marshall one, Louden Blach one, and Pablo Becerra one.
Once again, the Indians had zero turnovers, compared to two for PRA, and kept the penalties down with only five for just 30 yards. The Indians did not commit a turnover in their final four games, and did not have more than five penalties in a game during that span, a sign of a team finding its discipline necessary to win football games.
Not bad. Not bad at all.