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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Artesia football unable to finish drives again, suffers third shutout in four games

 

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

 

Besides the youth and inexperience of the Artesia High football team this season, there are two other words that best describes the failures of the Pioneers-finishing drives. Artesia had its second straight game of some offensive production, but it resulted in another goose egg.

The Pioneers had 271 yards on offense, but had consecutive red zone drives in the second quarter halted as they were blanked by Estancia High 43-0 last Thursday night at Atkins Stadium. The Pioneers have scored once in 16 quarters this season and have been shutout in consecutive games.

“Yeah, but I think that’s just youth,” Olmstead said of the lost opportunities. “They haven’t played [enough]. Catching a ball in practice is different than catching a ball in a game. I thought we did a lot of good things. There are losses where you feel like we played [awful], and then there are losses where you think we played better than we actually did. There are fixable mistakes.”

Artesia punted on its first three possessions, then had a nice drive going with 3:17 remaining in the opening quarter. Starting at the Estancia 48-yard line, the hosts ran 11 plays and got the ball down to the eight-yard line before not gaining another yard on four straight plays. After the ensuing Estancia drive stalled at the Pioneer’s 37-yard line, Artesia drove down the field again, only to see senior quarterback K’Len Williams picked off at the one-yard line by Andrew Coyotzi. That turnover led to Estancia’s fourth score of the night as it held a 29-0 halftime lead. It would add another touchdown on its opening drive of the second half before the Pioneers moved 62 yards on 14 plays before that drive was stalled at the 18-yard line.

“As far as the first half goes, and parts of the second half,” I thought K’Len played great,” Olmstead said. “But you have to finish drives in high school football. There were times where we thought kicking a field goal, but at that time, we wanted to see if we can finish some drives and you can’t trade touchdowns for field goals and expect to win the game.

“When you get to the red zone, the field shrinks,” Olmstead later said. “When the field shrinks, you have to make plays and we didn’t make plays. But I think that’s the sign of a young team. I don’t think we’re going to be a big threat team this year, so I was really proud of those drives. We just have to finish them.”

The Pioneers were led by Williams and senior running back Erin Moses for the fourth time this season with Moses picking up 101 yards on 17 carries while Williams completed eight of his first 18 passes for 88 yards and picked up another 47 yards on 14 carries. Moses also led the defense with six tackles. In comparison, the Eagles gained 389 yards on the night with quarterback Cameron Knickerbocker completing 10 of 12 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns, and Noah Aires picking up 99 yards on seven carries and a pair of touchdowns.

“If you don’t catch the ball…guys had opportunities,” Olmstead said of his offense. “I think in the first half alone, we dropped four balls, and they were all good throws that K’Len put right on them. We’re not going to make big plays this year. We’re going to have to throw hitches, we’re going to have to throw slants, we’re going to have to make those easy throws and play catch, and we didn’t do that.”

Artesia will travel a short distance tonight to face Valley Christian High in the team’s fourth non-league game with one more to come before 605 League play begins. The Defenders enter the contest at 3-1 and are coming off a 35-21 win at Ontario Christian High on Sept. 17. V.C. has had one game cancelled while the Pioneers have had two cancelled. Since its opening-season loss to St. Paul High, V.C. has outscored its next three opponents by a combined score of 106-28 with one shutout.

“We haven’t seen them a whole lot,” Olmstead said. “We saw them in passing league, but [in] passing league, we don’t really value a ton. But it will be a fun game. It’s crosstown, so we don’t have to travel very far. And we’re playing better and we have stuff to build on.”

In other area football action, with games subject to be cancelled because of the Covid situation or moved to another date after time of press, Cerritos High, with its 2-3 record, visited St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy (5-1) on Sept. 30. The Dons are coming off their bye and last time out, was crushed by Troy High 49-6 on Sept. 17. While senior quarterback David Sagun has completed 32 of 53 passes for 327 yards and one touchdown, two other players have combined to go 12 of 32 for 39 yards. Senior Mateo Martinez, normally a wide receiver, leads the ground attack with 135 yards on 25 touches. He’s also the top receiver with 14 catches for 109 yards.

The Warriors, who began the season with four straight wins before falling to St. Anthony High 43-25, crushed Gardena High 63-0 last Friday. Quarterback Dieter Barr is a dual threat, passing for 904 yards with 18 touchdowns and just one interception while gaining 174 yards on 27 carries. The leading rusher is Dejour Menefee (34 carries, 426 yards, five touchdowns) while Barr has many options to go to in Menefee (24 receptions, 300 yards, four touchdowns), Nate Frazier (12 receptions, 169 yards, five touchdowns), Geoffrey Brown (12 receptions, 151 yards, one touchdown)), Jordan Shaw (10 receptions, 147 yards, three touchdowns).

Gahr High (0-3) @ Downey High (4-1)-This one could get ugly very early and very fast as the Gladiators have not scored a point this season while having to cancel an Aug. 20 home game against Mayfair High and a Sept. 3 game at Heritage Christian High. Downey has won four straight including a 25-14 decision against Hart High last Friday. The Vikings have scored 156 points and quarterback Aiden Chiles has already completed 67 of 92 passes for 1,109 yards and nine touchdowns. He (28 carries, 295 yards, three touchdowns) and Antonio Ruiz (37 carries, 289 yards, five touchdowns) lead the running attack while Isaiah Blair, Ian Hernandez and Tryse Redford have combined to catch 60 passes for 932 yards with 11 touchdowns.

Covina High (3-2) @ John Glenn High (2-3)-The Eagles lost a high-scoring affair to Hawthorne High last Friday, 48-34, for their third straight loss. While they are primarily a one-man show with senior running back Iona Young, they hope to even their mark before facing a tougher opponent in Garden Grove High on Oct. 8. Covina, which blanked Sierra Vista High 47-0 on Sept. 23, has scored 127 points in its three wins while allowing 67 points. But in the two losses, it has been outscored 71-7. Quarterback Jake Duronslet, a freshman, has already completed 53 passes in 83 attempts for 827 yards and 11 touchdowns while Rey Fierro leads the ground game with 48 carries for 310 yards and four scores. Jordan Rodriguez is the top receiver with 15 catches for 290 yards and four touchdowns.

Bellflower High (1-3) @ Norwalk High (4-2)-The Lancers saw their four-game winning streak snapped by El Rancho High in a 34-7 loss last Friday night. The lone score came in the second quarter on a two-yard run from junior running back David Herrera. This is the Suburban League opener for both with the Buccaneers coming in on a three-game losing streak, including a 49-8 loss to Arroyo High last Friday night. In its three losses, Bellflower has been outscored 124-22. Quarterback Adonis Thomas has completed 31 of 76 passes for 400 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions while Tyler Dunn (38 carries, 170 yards, one touchdown), Isaac Aninyei (36 carries, 112 yards), Chad Ballard (12 receptions, 116 yards, one touchdown) and Christian Fargas (eight receptions, 144 yards, two touchdowns) are the other offensive threats.

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Cerritos, coming off an impressive performance in the Pacifica Tournament last Saturday, winning all five matches including a 25-14, 25-10 win against Fountain Valley High for the championship, entered today’s match at Artesia at 20-3 overall and 6-0 in the 605 League. The Lady Dons knocked off second place Oxford Academy in four sets this past Tuesday and need two more wins to clinch at least a share of the league title. They will also host Whitney High on Tuesday.

 

Gahr entered this past Tuesday’s home match with Paramount High at 7-9 overall and 2-2 in the San Gabriel Valley League. The Lady Gladiators hosted Downey on Sept. 30 and will visit Dominguez High and Lynwood High on Tuesday and Thursday respectively.

La Mirada High, which began the season with 11 straight losses, has turned it around the past two weeks to enter its Sept. 30 match at Norwalk with a mark of 8-16 overall and 3-1 in the Suburban League. The Lady Matadores travel to Mayfair High on Tuesday and Bellflower on Thursday.

Norwalk entered this past Tuesday’s match against first place Mayfair with a 6-7 overall mark and 1-2 in the Suburban League as the Lady Lancers will go to Bellflower on Tuesday and Mayfair again on Thursday.

Through the first half of Olympic League play, V.C. has split four matches, including a 20-25, 21-25, 25-20, 25-15, 7-15 loss to Whittier Christian High this past Tuesday. The Lady Defenders (15-11 overall) went to Maranatha High on Sept. 30 and will entertain Village Christian High on Tuesday. Village Christian is ranked fifth in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 and 2 poll while Whittier Christian is ranked third in Division 3.

Whitney dropped to 4-16 overall and 1-3 in the 605 League after a 25-19, 25-23, 26-24 loss to Oxford Academy last Friday. The Lady Wildcats were scheduled to play Pioneer High on the road this past Tuesday and will host last place Glenn today.

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