The Yuma Football Team still is in line for a great seeding in the Class 1A playoffs, despite last Friday’s Harvest Cup loss at rival Wray.
However, Yuma definitely needs to get more offensive.
“We have to do a better job of being patient,” head coach Kelly Seward said. “Not every play is going to work all the time, but too often we’re not seeing the hold quick enough…We have to stick to what we know.”
The YFT suffered its first loss in 2022, 20-14, at Wray last Friday at Powell Field, now sitting at 6-1 overall, 2-1 in 1A League 4. Yuma plays its last home game of the season Friday against Holyoke (7 p.m. kickoff), and a win would assure Yuma of no less than a 7-2 record, and most likely a top-five seed for the postseason — which would ensure opening the playoffs at home for the first time since 2013.
However, last Friday was the fourth straight game in which the opposition outgained the YFT. Yuma got by with it for the first three, while opening 6-0 for the first time since the 2009 championship season, but the yardage splits at least were close.
That definitely was not the case last Friday.
Wray racked up 335 total yards, 203 rushing and 132 passing, while Yuma had 79 total yards, averaging 1.9 yards per play.
And yet, somehow, the YFT had a chance to win in the final minutes.
“The kids battled,” Seward said. “That’s this team, their bend-but-don’t-break mentality, and creating turnovers.”
Yuma closes the regular season next Friday at top-ranked juggernaut Limon, so the former Tribe really need to regain some momentum this Friday against the Dragons.
Holyoke is 2-5 overall, 0-3 in 1A League 4, after last Friday’s 60-27 loss at Limon. The Dragons also have been blown out by Wray (53-12) and Wiggins (42-8) in league play.
Yet, Yuma cannot take anything for granted heading into its regular-season home finale.
“I think every game is big at this point, obviously, but we have to find a way to win at least one of our last two to secure a home game for the playoffs. If we win Friday, we’ll be 7-1 going to Limon. I’ll take that.”
Limon currently sits at 3-0 in league play, 6-0 overall. Yuma, Wray and Wiggins each are 2-1 in league play, while Holyoke and Burlington remain winless in League 4. Wiggins won 35-7 at home last Saturday in the other game featuring former North Central Conference teams.
Besides Yuma hosting Holyoke, this week’s action includes Limon hosting Wiggins, and Wray traveling to Burlington. All three League 4 games are on Friday night this week.
As for the Rating Percentage Index, Yuma remained No. 2 in the 1A RPI after this week. Limon still is No. 1. Wray has moved up to No. 5 after the win over Yuma. Wiggins is No. 7, as the league could host four playoff games in the first round. Holyoke and Burlington currently are still in the playoff hunt, sitting at No. 14 and No. 16 in the RPI.
As for the 1A Top 10 (CHSAANow.com polls), Limon remains No. 1, and Wray No. 2. Yuma drops one spot to No. 4, and Wiggins stays at No. 6.
“This might sound crazy, but I think whoever is the most healthy out of the top four (in League 4) is going to have the most success in the playoffs,” Seward said.
Yuma went to Wray last Friday looking to win the ancient rivalry since for the first time since 2019, and Yuma’s first win at Powell Field since 2008.
Both milestones will have to wait.
Critical Wray turnovers, and some great punts, kept Yuma in the game.
“People don’t talk about it enough, but how often does Alex (Lozano) flip the field for us,” Seward said of his senior kicker/punter.
Both teams had to punt on their first possessions. Yuma’s second possession ended with a booming punt by Alex Lozano that pinned Wray at its own 5-yard line. Wray fumbled on its next play, and Daman Hernandez recovered and returned it seven yards for a touchdown. Lozano’s extra-point gave Yuma a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Wray effectively mixed the run and pass on its next possession, driving 68 yards. Yuma nearly came up with a big goal line stand, but Wray’s Samuel Miesner barely scored on fourth-and-goal for the one. The Eagles’ 2-point conversion was stuffed, leaving Yuma ahead 7-6, 4 minutes into the second quarter.
Yuma could not mount a drive again on its next possession, with Wray taking over on its sown 25. The Eagles went heavy on the pass on that drive, culminating with Casey Midcap’s 36-yard touchdown pass to Chris Aramula.
The 2-point pass attempt was no good, but Wray went into halftime holding a 12-7 lead.
The Eagles upped their lead to 20-7 late in the third quarter, following a blocked punt, when Miesner ran 12 yards for a touchdown, then ran in the 2-point conversion.
However, momentum turned back to Yuma early in the fourth when a great punt by Lozano was fumbled by Wray at its own 7-yard line. Silas Baucke rumbled for six yards, followed by Kallen Blach’s one-yard TD run. Lozano’s extra point pulled Yuma to within six, 20-14, with 9:19 left.
Yuma gained just enough yards on its next possession to set up a Lozano punt that ended up at the Wray 6-yard line.
The YFT defense forced a punt, and Yuma took over on Wray’s 38 with 2:54 left.
A big third-down conversion on a Blach run up the middle, set up Yuma on Wray’s 26. However, Yuma went back to pass on its next play, and a deep ball was intercepted on the 2-yard line, securing the win for Wray.
“We psyched ourselves out at points during that game,” Seward said. “We just have to be who we are.”
Yuma gained 56 yards on the ground. Nash Richardson ran for 26 yards, Blach 15 on three carries, Baucke 11 on three carries, Jack Blecha seven yards, and Hernandez three. Richardson completed four of nine passes for 23 yards, two to Jonathan Thomson for 17 yards, and two to Blach for six yards.
For Wray, Midcap completed 10 of 18 passes for 132 yards. Arambula had six catches for 100 yards and a TD. Miesner led Wray’s ground attack with 76 yards and two touchdowns, and Brady Collins had 70 yards on 11 carries.
Defensively for Yuma, Blach was in on 18 total tackles, Ethan Goeglein 10, Kevin Hermosillo 10, Nathan Etl eight, Victor Perez six, Richardson five, Baucke five, Cesar Varela five, Hernandez four, Jesus Ross four, Trey Stegman three, Hugo Montes two, Zeke Martinez two, and Gonzales (who left the game with an injury) one.
JV BEATS WRAY
Yuma High School’s JV football team improved to 6-1-1 with a 30-6 win over rival Wray, Monday afternoon in Yuma.
Marvin Duarte and James Brandner scored rushing touchdowns, Jonathan Thomson threw a touchdown pass to Adrian Carranza. Thomson also scored on an interception return. Thomson had two interceptions, and Carranza had one.
The YHS JV closes out its season October 31 at home against Sterling.