By Nolberto Waddell
Copper Basin News
The trip was a long, the scenery was great and the weather was ideal.
The game between the Lobos and Spartans was ugly.
The game had two different halves: the Lobos dominated in the first half and with the Lobo starters on the bench for most of the second half it was all Spartans in the second half.
The Lobos won the coin toss. Ezekiel Boltarez took the kick-off at the 15 yard line returning the football for a 65 yard touchdown (they played on an 80 yard field) to give Hayden 6 to 0 lead at 11:43 of the first quarter. The Lobos got the ball back after two negative yard plays when a Boltarez tackle jarred the ball loose with Francisco Moreno recovering. The Lobos were unprepared for the Spartans defense and were forced to punt. Two penalties against Hayden moved them back further with Boltarez punting from under the goal post shadows. The kick went off, the Spartans were penalized for roughing the kicker and Hayden lost Boltarez to an injury.
The Lobo coaches adjusted to the weird defense with Aaron Lagunas scoring from 52 yards to give Hayden a 12 to 0 score at 7:19 of the first quarter. Hayden kicked off, held for three plays and a punt, but soon gave the ball back on a Lagunas fumble. Lagunas quickly made up for the fumble stepping in front of a Spartans pass at the Lobo 29 yard line. Lagunas took the handoff out running the defense for a 51 yard TD. Jacob Manriquez scored the two points for a 20 to 0 Lobo lead at 3:42 of the quarter. The Lobos kicked off, held, forcing a punt that resulted in a fair catch violation against Ash Fork giving the Lobos the ball at the Spartan 31 yard line. Two Lagunas carries resulted in a 19 yard score to give Hayden a 26 to 0 score with 16 seconds left in the first quarter. Hayden kick-off to end the first quarter.
The second quarter stared with Hayden holding but a Hayden penalty gave Ash Fork a first and 10. The Lobos defense held forcing a punt resulting in touchback to the 15 yard line. With Lagunas resting, Hayden gave up a safety to cut the Lobo lead to 26 to 2. Hayden kicked off, was penalized for a personal foul with the Lobo defense getting the ball back at the Hayden six yard line. The Lobo defense held and one play later resulted in a 74 yard touchdown run by Lagunas for a 32 to 2 lead at 5:21 of the second quarter. A kick-off by Hayden went into the end zone and, on the first play, a fierce tackle by Manny Armenta resulted in a fumble recovered by Moreno. But the puzzled officials said they did not see the fumble, giving the ball back to Ash Fork. A tackle by Moreno for a 17 yard loss forced a punt stopping at the Spartan 36 yard line. Brandon Cruz carried for four yards and Lagunas took care of the remaining yards on a 32 yard TD run for a 38 to 2 score at 2:19 of the quarter. Another lobo kick-off, two plays later Hayden had the ball on a Chris Rabago tackle for a forced fumble that he recovered. Hayden gave it right back on a fumble snap. The half ended with the young Hayden players on the field holding Ash Fork out of the end zone.
The second half started with the Hayden first team on the sideline and the Spartans took advantage, taking the kick-off in for a TD, that was called back for an illegal hit. After a couple passes, Santiago Pina intercepted a pass, but the Lobo offense turned it right back on a fumble snap. An 11 yard Spartan run resulted in another weird official call. The sideline ref said the Spartan runner stepped out of bounds; he dropped his marker on the spot but did not blow his whistle to stop the play or signal to stop the clock. The Ash Fork runner kept on going, the Lobo defenders tackled him drawing a flag from the sideline ref for an illegal hit out of bounds call. After all was done, Ash Fork had a first down at the Hayden 12 yard line. Ash Fork scored two plays later to cut the Hayden lead to 38 to 8 9:55 of the third.
Ash Fork tried an outside recovered by Hayden, drove down the field scoring on a 28 yard pass from Manriquez to Rabago to give Hayden a 44 to 8 lead at 6:36 of the third quarter. The coach had enough; the game was now in the hands of the Lobo reserve squad for the rest of the game with the Ash Fork team taking advantage of the smaller and inexperienced Lobos. The young Lobos held their own until late in the fourth quarter with the bigger Spartan squad finally scoring three touchdowns in the final minutes of the game with the Lobos holding on for the 44 to 30 win.
The game was ugly with the officials tossing 24 flags, 13 against the Lobos with the majority 15 yard penalties and 11 against the Spartans with only two of the 15 yard violations. On the stats, it looked like an even game but the majority of the Ash Fork yards came in the fourth quarter. The Lobo first team held the Spartans to only 31 yards on the ground; they finished with 120 total rushing and 134 yards on passes with 71 of the yards coming in the second half.
Manny Armenta had a great game on defense recording 13 tackles, caused a fumble and a pass deflect. Ryan Donavon had eight tackles with Francisco Moreno getting seven tackles and recovering two fumbles before leaving the game late in the second quarter with an injury. Juan Hernandez had five tackles and recovered a fumble. Austin White had six tackles. Alex Sims recorded six tackles as did Aaron Lagunas who also had an interception. Brandon Cruz had three tackles and a pass deflect. Recording two tackles a piece were Jacob Manriquez and Gabriel Mariscal. Before leaving the game early in the first quarter due to an injury, Ezekiel Boltarez had one tackle causing a fumble.
On offense, the Lobos totaled 263 yards with majority coming on Aaron Lagunas runs. Lagunas carried 13 times for 253 yards and five touchdowns. Jacob Manriquez facing pressure from a weird seven man front completed only one pass with Chris Rabago on the receiving end.
The game was ugly, the officiating very questionable, and the time clock operator even worse.
But it’s time to put all of Friday’s game behind. It’s time to get ready for the game, this Friday at Ray High School with kick-off set for 7 p.m. It should be a good one!