Imperial beats Yuma High in shortened game
The Yuma High and Imperial (Calif.) football teams tried to wait out the lightning storm but Mother Nature wasn't complying Friday night.
Halfway through the third quarter, the game was called to give the Tigers a shortened 37-7 victory at Doan Field.
The game will be official and count toward both teams records.
Lightning was off in the distance the entire game but with 6:04 left in the third quarter, as the Criminals were lining up for a kickoff after a safety, the officials decided it became too close for comfort and sent everybody into the gymnasiums. After a 30 minute break, the lightning remained and the game was called.
"The (athletic directors) and the coaches have to get together and look at their schedules and there's no possible way to make this thing up," Yuma High coach Curt Weber said.
"With the score, there's no doubt what the outcome was going to be. College and professional athletes go through this ... it's a business for them. High school, it's a lot trickier to get them all warmed up and get the hype ready to go and all a sudden they got to sit and we played quite a while."
However, Weber said he didn't get the feeling that his players were mentally finished with the game during the break, which he was happy about.
Imperial senior running back Royce Freeman, who has committed to Oregon next year, finished with 181 yards and four touchdowns on nine carries. However, three times the Criminal defense held him to four yards or less on a carry – including in the first quarter when Johnny Arellano and Octavio Rios brought him down for a 3-yard loss.
"Schematically, we were in good shape. Freeman is good enough, but that quarterback makes him a lot better," Weber said of Imperial quarterback Chris Carter, who went 9 for 15 for 113 yards and a touchdown and rushed three times for 47 yards.
The Criminals' rushing attack of Arturo Vargas and Chris Gonzalez was held in check by the Tiger defense – the two combined for 31 yards on 13 carries – but Yuma High (0-2) got a good showing from quarterback Riley McAdam. The junior finished 6 for 10 for 145 yards and a touchdown and multiple times hit receivers while rolling outside the pocket.
"If you look at the guys from week to week, I think he's made the most improvement," Weber said. "I like the touch on his throws. He threw a really good intermediate ball tonight."
With the ball on their own 15-yard line midway through the second quarter, McAdam threw a deep pass down the middle and it bounced off Imperial safety Sage Macias. Yuma High junior tight end Richard Valenzuela caught the ball off the bounce and didn't break stride and took it in for an 85-yard touchdown.
"When it bounced off his helmet, I was trying to find where the ball was because I knew it was going to be overthrown and I was running and running and I thought, 'I'm going to see if it bounces off him and if it does, I'm going to catch it,'" Valenzuela said. "And I knew if I caught it, I could take it to the house."
However, Yuma High was called for 12 penalties on the night – many of which came on offense before the snap.
"It's mental. Of all the things that happened tonight that I'm not happy about, it's the 5-yard offensive penalties," Weber said. "The procedures, the snap infractions, the movement before the snap. A lot of that was caused by (Imperial's) blitzing front."
The Criminals are in the middle of a tough three-game stretch to start the year and have to travel to Tucson on Friday. However, Weber said that facing the likes of Freeman and the Tigers have helped prepare the Criminals for the more winnable games on the schedule.
"These first three games, everything else is a lot slower (from now on). The game will happen a lot slower in front of them," Weber said. "The kids are giving it their best shot. When the playing field levels out, I like our chances."