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Skyhawks Take Down Highly-Ranked Cougars 55-48 in Homecoming Game to Remember

Kyle Pinnell

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Nothing could stop the Skyhawks offense in their homecoming football game, not even the adverse weather conditions.

The Hawks found the end zone on four of their first fifteen plays as they went on to defeat the eighth-ranked Mountain View Cougars 55-48 in a high-scoring affair Friday night at Southridge High School.

The Skyhawks (3-3) outgained the Cougars (4-2) through the air as quarterback, Darik Salinas, passed for 311 total yards and six touchdowns compared to Mountain View’s 42 yards. However, on the ground it was all Mountain View as they rushed for over 400 yards compared to the Skyhawks 194.

“We had a good game. During halftime coach told us that we need to learn how to finish in fourth quarters and that’s what we did,” Southridge receiver Keyvaun Eady said.

“We just came out from the get-go and we took it to them from the first snap,” senior Kade Hustler added. “We didn’t look back after that. We had some ups and downs throughout the game, but in the fourth quarter we made the plays that had to be made.”

One of those plays came with under a minute left in the game. With the Skyhawks facing a fourth down in Cougar territory Bickler told his offense to stay on the field. With the Cougars out of timeouts, a conversion would seal the game while a failure to pick up the first down would have given the Cougars a chance to force overtime.

Dropping back, Salinas targeted Eady who was in the midst of one of his best-receiving games of the season. Eady, who finished with 172 receiving yards and three touchdowns, found the gap in the zone for an eleven-yard reception, effectively clinching the win for the Skyhawks.

“It’s huge for us to know that [the coaches] have that confidence in us to go out and make those plays every Friday,” Hustler said. “It’s been like that since week one and they’ve just kept that confidence.”

The game started just like it ended: with a crucial Eady reception. On the second snap of the game and the Hawks on their own twenty-yard line, Salinas was able to step up in the pocket and find Eady down the right sideline for an 80-yard touchdown. It was a simple post route, but Eady was able to create a little bit of separation and make the play.

“Tonight [Mountain View] was trying to take away the box, they were trying to take away Blake, so we had to go to the aerial attack,” Southridge head coach Kevin Bickler said. “If they were going to play man-to-man with our outside receivers, then we’re going to make them pay and that’s what we were able to do.”

“We’re a big play offense, we like to make those plays as often as we can,” Hustler added. “We like to be on that steady incline throughout the game, not get too high and not get too low so it was good for us to have that boost of confidence right there.”

While Mountain View had a tough time slowing down the Skyhawks passing attack, the Hawks had an even tougher time trying to control the line of scrimmage.

Known as “The Pegasus” among his teammates, senior running back Jonas Larson ran over, around, and right through the Skyhawk defense for 373 rushing yards and finished with all seven of Mountain View’s touchdowns.

Coming into the game, Bickler told the team to make sure that the Cougars earned their touchdowns. He compared the battle in the trenches to twelve-round boxing and the Skyhawks sure took some punches. However, they also delivered some big punches of their own, perhaps none bigger than a 45-yard pick-six by Romel Moreland right before halftime to restore a one-touchdown advantage.

The only turnover of the game made a big difference with both teams going blow-for-blow in a game where there were more combined touchdowns than punts. If the Skyhawks wanted to keep up, they would need to play an almost perfect game on offense.

“Our defense wasn’t that good; we weren’t doing that well, so we decided that we needed to score every time we had the ball on offense to make up for our defense,” Eady said.

For the second week in a row, the Skyhawks made some huge plays on fourth down. On fourth and two in their own half of the field, Darik tossed the ball to running back Blake Sims who ran 72 yards to the house for his only touchdown of the night.

Later in the game with the Hawks up seven they went for it on fourth down again. This time Salinas found Hustler for a 22-yard strike that gave the Skyhawks their final points of the game.

Along with going for it on fourth down, the Hawks mixed in some onside kicks, especially early in the game. While none of them were successful and resulted in the Cougars working with a short field, they were able to cause some anxiety among the Mountain View returners.

“The last two years we have been highly successful on fourth downs and we practice the onside kicks at practice,” Bickler said. “It makes the return team nervous, they don’t know where the ball’s going to go, and if we can get [a turnover], especially in a game like this, now you got momentum in the game and it makes the other team hang their head a little bit. Our personality is we want to take risks, we want to take chances, and we want to have a high percentage of converting those chances.”

Any win is big, but a win against a top-ranked team like Mountain View helps give the Skyhawks some positive momentum as they head into their most challenging game of the season against the Jesuit Crusaders.

“[The win] is huge for us,” Hustler said. “We needed this confidence booster right now to go and play one of those top-tier teams like Jesuit. We’ve got to work hard on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then go out and win a dog fight.”

“Mountain View is a Jesuit-type team in terms of their style and so we’re excited to play Jesuit,” Bickler added. “We want to go out there and compete and see where we stand with the top team in the state.”

Friday’s game against Mountain View capped a perfect two-game homestand for the Hawks. The next two games are both on the road as they travel to Jesuit to take on the aforementioned Crusaders before making the short trip up the road to Beaverton High School to cap off their road schedule. They play their next home game against Aloha on October 26th as they wrap up the regular season.

“I’m just really proud of our kids,” Bickler said after the Hawks second consecutive home win. “They showed a lot of heart tonight because there were several times where they could’ve just hung their heads, but when they needed to make a play, they made a play.”

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Skyhawks Take Down Highly-Ranked Cougars 55-48 in Homecoming Game to Remember