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Skyhawks Show Fight, But Talent Too Much To Overcome as Crusaders Defeat Skyhawks 62-21

Kyle Pinnell

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With the end of the season rapidly approaching, the Southridge Skyhawks traveled to Cronin Field to play the Jesuit Crusaders in the toughest game remaining on their schedule.

In the midst of a two-game winning streak, the Skyhawks (3-4) looked to build on their positive momentum coming off of an impressive home win over the Mountain View Cougars the week before. However, it wasn’t meant to be as the Crusaders (6-1) had a stretch of 35 unanswered points and comfortably dispatched the Skyhawks 62-21.

“I don’t think we’re that far off from them. I know the score didn’t indicate it, but I think talent-wise and matchup for matchup it was close,” Southridge head coach Kevin Bickler said.

Tight end Graham Auer led the Hawks with 85 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns while the Crusaders were led by junior running back Ted Atkinson who finished with 237 rushing yards to go along with two rushing touchdowns.

Last week the Mountain View Cougars attacked the Skyhawks through the run game and Friday night was no different as the Crusaders finished the game with 451 yards on the ground and six rushing touchdowns.

Jesuit opened up the scoring early on when running back Andy Alfieri ran up the gut for a one-yard touchdown, concluding an opening drive without an attempted pass.

The Skyhawks fought back near the end of the first quarter when quarterback Darik Salinas completed a 49-yard pass down the seam to a wide-open Auer who ran untouched into the end zone.

However, the comeback wouldn’t last for long as Jesuit went right back to work, scoring 21 unanswered points to close out the half.

One of the biggest things separating the two sides was execution. Jesuit found pay-dirt on all of their possessions except for two which came right before halftime and at the end of the game. When the Crusaders were faced with a third-down situation they were able to keep the chains moving; they finished with 34 first downs compared to Southridge’s 12.

“It was just little tiny things like one guy on one play not stepping a certain way, or a guy just running his route slightly off,” Bickler said. “That stuff can all be corrected, but in terms of heart and talent and effort, we’re really close to them, it’s just tiny little execution stuff.”

Late in the third quarter, Salinas found Auer wide open again down the seam and fired the ball to him for 17 yards and the Skyhawks second touchdown. The Hawks noticed that the Crusaders were playing without a deep safety in the middle, therefore leaving the middle of the field open, and they took full advantage of it.

While the score wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t indicative of the effort that the Hawks put in throughout the game. However, while the team fought hard and didn’t give up, junior lineman Zach Slail believed that the Skyhawks were playing a little bit scared against the Metro League giants.
“I was honestly surprised of how bad Jesuit was,” Slail said. “They were just about as good as Mountain View except they were Jesuit; their name was Jesuit. So instead of playing with confidence, a lot of our players were playing with fear today.”

One of the biggest takeaways from this game might just be the continued emergence of junior running back Romel Moreland.

With starting running back Blake Sims playing limited snaps due to recovering from a pulled hamstring, Moreland made a couple of big plays and finished with 71 rushing yards.

In the fourth quarter, Moreland made a ten-yard run where he evaded multiple Crusaders with a variety of different moves, showed his speed by completely reversing field, and demonstrated his strength by breaking multiple tackles along the way. The next play, EJ Santos ran 20 yards into the end zone.

“[Romel] is a great zone back,” Bickler said. “He keeps running hard, he’s hard to bring down, he’s elusive, and having both him and Blake at that position along with how well our offensive line is blocking, it gives us a lot of weapons to spread out the field and take advantage of.”

“It’s as simple as this: Romel is very good. He’s very shifty, he’s insanely difficult to catch,” Slail added.

Despite the loss, the Skyhawks still have an opportunity to secure their first home playoff game since 2015. The Hawks have their remaining games at Beaverton High School next week before returning home to face the Aloha Warriors to conclude the regular season. If they win out, a home playoff game will be theirs.

Coming into the week, the question never was whether the Skyhawks could come in and beat the Crusaders. The real question is whether the Skyhawks can bounce back quickly and be perfect to finish out the season in order to secure that elusive home playoff game.

“I was happy with the way our line played again,” Slail said. “I am proud of us as a team, and I think with a few minor adjustments then this could’ve been a much different game.”

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Skyhawks Show Fight, But Talent Too Much To Overcome as Crusaders Defeat Skyhawks 62-21