Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Islander Football Falls to Sweetwater on Last Second Field Goal, Moves to 1-1

There is a saying around the Coronado Islanders football team this season, get 1% better every day. Well this past Friday night vs the Red Devils of Sweetwater High School the Islanders football team not only looked to get 1% better, but get one win better to improve to 2-0 on the season.

Coronado Islanders defensemen Hudson Bartell #2 and Saxton Sylvester #64 converge on Sweetwater’s quarterback during last year’s meeting vs. Sweetwater on Friday, August 27, 2021. (Photo by Joan C. Fahrenthold)

The Islanders’ opponent, Sweetwater High School, presented a unique and difficult challenge running the rarely used triple option offense. For some teams around San Diego county, seeing the triple option may fluster them as it simply became an obsolete and rarely used offensive scheme.

But not for the Islanders. Having taken on the Sweetwater team twice last season and beating them both times, the Islanders appeared to have the upper hand.

In the first half, and truly for the entirety of Friday night’s game, the Islander defense was in control. In the first quarter alone, the Islanders would force two turnovers: a strip and recovery by Steven Davis and a muffed snap recovered by Saxton Sylvester. Both Davis and Sylvester were lights out on Friday, each producing six tackles and 1 TFL.

To go along with the two early turnovers, the Islander defense also would hold Sweetwater to under five first downs in the first half; thanks again due to their dominance in their front seven. Some other notable performances came from Elias Valdivia, who recorded two sacks on the night with eight tackles, and Jonathan Rotherham and Jordan Mendoza, who both tallied five-plus tackles.

“Our defensive line stepped up in a huge way,” said Islander Head Coach Kurt Hines. “Sweetwater came out looking much different than what we saw on tape, and our defense did a great job of adjusting and plugging up every hole possible. They did a phenomenal job all night.”

While the defense played light outs, it was up to the Islander offense to put some points on the board. But on Friday night that was a tall task. Coronado was held scoreless in the first, and while they could move the ball at times, they could not put together a complete drive.

The closest the Islanders came to the endzone in the first half was on a 3rd and 10 play from the Sweetwater 28-yard line.

Graham Bower attempted to connect with Logan Eastlick, who had his man beat, on a corner route. But the pass was just a touch beyond the reach of Eastlick at the 3-yard line and fell incomplete keeping the game 0-0 at the half.

“On offense everything starts with our blocking,” said Hines. “And right now blocking is not where it needs to be. We need to do a better job of holding our blocks and taking the right steps. If we can improve that, the offense as a whole will improve.”

Coming out of the half, Coronado had another opportunity to put points on the board. After yet another recovered fumble by the Islander defense, Coronado set up shop at mid-field.

To start the drive, RB Valdivia broke off a 20-yard run that was promptly followed by a long pass play from Bower to Connor Little, setting them up inside the red zone. But again, the drive would stall and result in 0 points keeping things tied at 0-0.

In fact, the game would remain scoreless deep into the 4th quarter. But with just under 7 minutes to pay, we got our first points. Following another forced 3 and out by the Coronado defense, Sweetwater would line up to punt. However, the Islanders would break through, block the punt, and set the offense up at Sweetwater’s 5-yard line.

Just one play later, Bower would call his own number and scamper into the endzone to give the Islanders a 7-0 lead with four minutes to play.

The lead was short-lived though, as Sweetwater responded with a resounding drive of their own and scored to make it a 7-6 game with 46 seconds to play. The Red Devils went for two and were denied thanks to what, at the time, appeared to be a game-sealing tackle made in the open field by Little.

However, on the following kickoff, Sweetwater lined up for an onside kick and, after a few wicked bounces, recovered with 40 seconds to play. And on a 3rd and 3 with 15 seconds to play, Sweetwater connected on its only complete pass of the night on a perfectly executed fly route up the near sideline.

“Our safety and corner were in a great position to make a play,” said Hines. “It was just a perfect pass that is nearly impossible to defend.”

The big pass and catch would set up what would prove to be the game-winning FG to hand Sweetwater the 9-7 win, and move the Islanders to 1-1 on the young season.

The Islanders will look to bounce back as they take on Santana this Friday, Sept. 2nd, at 7:00 PM at Santana High School.

“Santana loves to bring the house on defense” said Hines “They bring six guys at times so we are really going to need to work on our combo blocks and short pass game. We’re not going to have that time sit back in the pocket and let plays to develop. We will need to be quick and efficient on offense.”


Clark Fahrenthold
Clark Fahrenthold
Clark is a recent graduate from Sonoma State University where he received his BA in Communications and a minor in History. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf, tennis, and running. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]