By Frank Smith
San Manuel Miner
The San Manuel Miners varsity football team hosted their season opener against the high flying offense of the Thatcher Eagles, as the Miners came out in the hole with the Eagles posting the shutout win 34 – 0.
The Miners did all they could do to keep the Eagles grounded but the size and the numbers Thatcher presented wore San Manuel down as the game continued.
Thatcher is a highly touted team in their respective division with the anticipation of going deep into the playoffs this year and in the years to come as the Eagles only have three seniors on this year’s squad.
In the first quarter, the Miners’ defense held the Eagles scoreless. The Miners’ offense had an opportunity to score late in the quarter on their second possession of the game as they marched the ball down to the Eagles 28 yard line but the Miners moved themselves out of scoring position back to their own 29 yard line after a high snap on a punt, where Thatcher would take advantage of the short field.
In the second quarter, the Eagles lined up at the Miners’ 29 yard line and scored four plays later as quarterback Heath Motes connected with wide receiver Jeff Shumway on a 22 yard pass into the end zone with kicker Brad Ferrin splitting the uprights for a 7 – 0 lead with 11:31 on the clock in the second quarter.
Thatcher would score again in the quarter, when the Miners again could not get a good punt off giving the Eagles good field position at the 50 yard line. The Eagles marched the ball in eight plays later with quarterback Motes calling his own number and running the ball up the middle of the Miner defense for a 10 yard touchdown. Ferrin’s kick was good for a 14 – 0 lead with 2:46 left in the first half.
The Eagles were not done scoring as they would put some more points on the scoreboard just before the half ended. The Miners lined up for another punt that was blocked and returned to the Miners 20 yard line where on the first play from the line of scrimmage, Motes would score on a 20 yard scamper into the end zone. The extra point kick by Ferrin was good for a 21 – 0 score with :19 left in the second quarter.
The Miners would get the ball and take a knee – going into the half down 21-0.
In the third quarter, the Eagles would take the second half opening drive in for a score eight plays later as Motes again would call his own number – punching it in from the one yard line for the touchdown. The kick by Ferrin was no good for a 27 – 0 score with 6:54 showing on the clock. The Eagles drove 64 yards in eight plays taking 5:10 on the drive.
Thatcher would score one last time – late in the fourth quarter as the Miners’ offense could not sustain a drive and were forced to punt. The Eagles took possession at the Miners’ 29 yard line, with running back Grayson Bryce capping off the drive six plays later on a two yard dive into the end zone for the touchdown. The PAT kick by Ferrin was good for a 34 – 0 lead with 4:09 on the clock.
San Manuel kept possession the rest of the fourth quarter to end the game with the loss.
Offensively: On the ground; Shane Kelly carried the ball eight times for 18 yards and Ben Quijada had seven carries for nine yards.
In the air; Bryan Valdez threw 13 passes and completed six for 77 yards with two interceptions. Receiving: Alvaro Alvarez caught one pass for 30 yards, Shane Kelly caught three passes for 24 yards, and Richard Romo caught two passes for 23 yards.
Defensively: Shane Kelly had 11 tackles, one quarterback sack, two tackles for loss, Anthony Garcia had six tackles and one quarter back sack, Jonathan Croci had four tackles and one tackle for loss, and Armando Lopez had four tackles.
Head Coach Steve Elmore said, “I am proud of the guys for never giving up, they played till the very end and gave it their all. We made a lot of little mistakes and against a good team like Thatcher, those mistakes will hurt you and they did this game. We need to rebound and come out ready to play against a tough Benson team on Friday night.”
The Miners will host the Benson Bobcats this Friday night at Littau Field with kick off slated for 6 p.m.