Friday night provided yet another exciting football game for the Islander faithful. With CUSD schools officially back in session the Islanders looked to treat their boisterous crowd to a victory.
The first quarter set the tone quite well for how the rest of the night would unfold. The Red Devils came out running the Wishbone offense; a scheme type that is rarely run in modern football. But despite the unorthodox offense from Sweetwater, the Islander defense would not be fooled, as the Islander defense stacked the box and regularly made tackles for loss.
Whether it was Gunnar Tonkin, JT Nelson, Zane Delcore, or another Islander in black, Coronado was living in the Sweetwater backfield.
However, while the Coronado defense was firing on all cylinders, the Coronado offense was a bit slow out of the gate. It’s not that the Islanders were unable to move the ball in the first; it’s just that they seemed to lack the ability to sustain a drive.
After a scoreless first, the Islanders’ offense looked to get things moving in the right direction. And on their first drive of the second quarter, it appeared as if they would. On the first play of the quarter, QB Hudson Herber ran a QB draw for a 21-yard gain, pushing Coronado to the Sweetwater 47 yard line.
But the promising start to the drive would soon fizzle after a pair of Sweetwater sacks forced Coronado to punt.
While the Coronado offense still was trying to iron out their issues, the Coronado defense would continue to cause problems for the Sweetwater offense.
On the next two possessions for the Red Devils, the Coronado defense allowed zero net yards. The Islanders also tallied two sacks, one from Delcore and another by Donny Couts, and three other tackles for loss courtesy of Asa Valdivia and Tonkin.
To cap off their fantastic first-half showing, the Islander defense even forced and recovered a fumble to set up the offense on the Red Devils 19-yard line with 40.1 seconds left in the first half.
Despite the first-half struggles, the offense would not waste the short field. On first down, Herber found Elias Valdivia for a six yard move of the ball to the 13-yard line with 32.1 seconds left in the second quarter.
On the very next play, Herber threw a beautiful touch pass to the back left corner on the end zone where Graham Bower made an impressive sliding catch for the touchdown, giving the Islanders the 7-0 lead at the half.
At the start of the third quarter, the Islanders quickly added to their lead, but not in the way you may think. On the Red Devils’ third play of their opening half drive, they ran what appeared to be 15-yard counterplay.
However, while fighting for the extra yard, a Coronado defender stripped the ball free, and it landed in the hands of Finley Alexander, who scampered past everyone down the far sideline for a 50-yard scoop and touchdown, extending the Coronado lead to 13-0 just minutes into the third quarter.
Unfortunately, the Islanders’ 13 point lead would be short-lived. Following a three and out by the Coronado offense, the Red Devils blocked the Islanders’ punt and took over at the Coronado 27-yard line.
Sweetwater wasted no time capitalizing on the blocked punt as their running back Javier Sanchez busted off a 27-yard TD run to make it a 13-7 game with 6:51 left to play in the third.
Despite the minor hiccup by the Coronado defense, the Islander defense would return to their stonewalling ways and prevent any points for the rest of the third , keeping us at 13-7 heading to a pivotal fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Red Devils wishbone/ground and pound offense looked as if it was maybe starting to wear the Islander defense down just a bit. As Sweetwater drove inside the Coronado 20-yard line and looked as if they were going to tie the game, the Coronado defense had other plans.
On 2nd and seven from the Islanders 17-yard-line Logan Eastlick stripped the ball from the Red Devils’ ball carrier and recovered the fumble – a massive red-zone turnover to keep Sweetwater out of the end zone.
After the turnover, the Islander offense was able to pick up a pair of first downs thanks to hard runs by Herber and Zane Declore. But just when it appeared the Islanders would be able to start bleeding the clock, they fumbled and gave the ball right back to Sweetwater with 8:20 left in the fourth quarter.
But on this Friday night, it wouldn’t matter, as the Coronado defense yet again refused to give up an inch. On both first and second down Zane Delcore and Eastlick recorded tackles for loss.
With time running out, the Red Devils attempted to go for it on 4th down, but Asa Valdivia and Eastlick stopped Sweetwater short of the line to gain, giving the ball back to the offense with 5:15 to play.
All the Coronado offense had to do now was sustain a drive and burn some clock. That would be tested early in the drive on a 4th and inches on the Sweetwater 33 with 4:10 to play.
On the play, it looked as if QB Herber would be stopped short of the line to gain, but the second year signal-caller made an acrobatic play to make an unblocked man miss and scoot forward for the first down.
The Islanders picked up another two first downs thanks to an 11 yard rush by Delcore and a 3rd and four completion from Herber to Tonkin, all but icing the game for the Islanders.
Sweetwater had one more shot to mount a drive after a muffed kneel by Coronado, but on their final play of the game, Tonkin recorded a sack to put an exclamation point on an Islander 13-7 victory.
Now at 1-1, Coronado will hit the road next week as they travel to El Capitan to face off against the Vaqueros in a nonleague matchup.