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605 LEAGUE FOOTBALL – Artesia keeps its playoff hopes alive, ends John Glenn’s postseason aspirations

Artesia High freshman running back Kamari Westley (center) is proving to be one of the up and coming players for the Pioneers and the 605 League. Westley gained 151 yards on 25 carries, scored on a 16-yard run and returned an interception 45 yards for another score as the Artesia defeated John Glenn High 33-15 last Thursday night. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer

 

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

October 25, 2022~The bottom two of the 605 League faced each other last Thursday night in a battle of who was going to still dream of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs and who was going to most likely finish in last place. A total of 51 players between visiting Artesia High and John Glenn High suited up and when the dust had settled, Artesia, with 23 players, knocked off the Eagles 33-15.

It marked Artesia’s highest scoring game of the season, while the defense allowed a season-low 15 points as the Pioneers improved to 1-7-1 overall, 1-1 in league. They had been shutout in three of their past four games and had scored 46 points in the first eight games.

“I’m just glad these guys keep fighting,” said Artesia first-year head coach Nate Hollister. “Like I said last week, our roster has shrunk in the past weeks and [this win] is big for these guys. I’m happy for our seniors that they actually came out and got a win. They told me earlier in the week they had never lost to Glenn and I’m glad that we were able to keep that going for them.”

On the other side of the field, the Eagles dropped to 2-6 overall, 0-2 and scored the most points since a 49-8 win against Firebaugh High on Aug. 26. Glenn also snapped a four-game stretch in which the defense allowed at least 51 points.

“We were outmanned and outgunned,” said Glenn head coach David Cruz. “I don’t know if you’ve seen the injuries on the sidelines, but it’s the same thing every week. We have guys that can’t make it through a game. I don’t have a right guard at the end of the game, I don’t have an outside linebacker at the end of the game. We’re having to put defensive backs in at linebacker and being shorthanded and not having enough players really hurt us today.”

On the game’s sixth play, Artesia senior Raymel Muldrew hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Julius Padilla and was looking for more when freshman Kamari Westley recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. While that never materialized into much, the Pioneers were showing they were on a mission.

Glenn would take a one-point lead early in the second quarter when senior running back Manny Sigala matriculated down the field for an 85-yard score. But that was short-lived as four plays into the ensuing drive, Padilla scored from 13 yards out. He would have scored on a 53-yard run with 27 seconds left in the half if it wasn’t for a holding infraction. But clearly, Artesia was building more and more steam heading into the locker room, even though it was Glenn which had 138 yards of offense to 120 from the Pioneers and the visitors already being flagged nine times for 80 yards.

“It’s just the discipline,” said Hollister. “We just kind of had to adjust the offense. We went from a spread team to a power run team. We’ve been learning in the weeks that even when we had a bigger roster that the run game was our strength. We just started to build around that and just use our linemen more and our skilled guys less so that our skilled guys can get a rest for defense, because they’re still going both ways. But these guys are grinding every day and I’m just proud they just keep coming out.”

“They have a lot of athletes and they’re fast, and anytime you have that combination, they can run by us,” said Cruz. “That’s what they did today. They showed that we’re not really good tacklers. We just had a lot of miscues.”

One of those miscues came five minutes into the third quarter in the form of a fumble and Artesia turned that into a 16-yard touchdown run from Westley for the only score of the stanza. Artesia then put the game away nearly midway through the fourth quarter when Padilla tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to senior Da’juan Turner. The nail in the coffin came with 2:39 remaining when Westley intercepted a pass from senior Emmanuel Enriquez and took it 45 yards to the house.

Artesia was virtually a two-man show as Westley gained 151 yards on 25 carries while Padilla, who completed three of six passes for 48 yards, added another 29 on 15 carries.

One of the few bright spots this season for John Glenn High’s football team is sophomore running back Tuiono Tuifoa, who gained 77 yards on 12 carries and scored once in the team’s 33-15 loss to Artesia High last Thursday in 605 League action. Glenn dropped to 2-6 overall, 0-2 in the league and was eliminated from playoff contention. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.

 

“Kamari is a special player,” said Hollister. “He’s been a big help; he’s raw talent and he’s coming into his own. The game was kind of too fast for him earlier in the season. But now, as the season is reaching its peak, he’s also reaching his peak.

“He can carry the load,” he continued. “We ask a lot of him, and Julius as well, and those guys have answered the call. These guys are gamers; they just want to play. They want to win and I’m glad that they actually can taste victory for us.”

Artesia hosted Pioneer High on Oct. 27 to close out the regular season with the winner of that contest claiming second place in the league and an automatic playoff spot. The Titans (3-5) are coming off a 35-14 loss to Cerritos High last Thursday and have never defeated Artesia in league action. Last season, the Pioneers escaped with an 18-17 win and prior to the formation of the league, the last Pioneer win over Artesia came in 2015, a 28-0 shutout.

The Titans began the season on a four-game losing streak, never scoring more than 20 points, before winning three straight games, the first two by a combined score of 17-7 before blasting Glenn 51-6.

“The win means a lot because the kids…it took a toll on them to see them every Monday morning and just hearing what some of the kids on campus were saying because they lost,” said Hollister. “I know for a fact it won’t happen next week. Knowing that next week these guys won’t be talked about is a great feeling. But it’s also a great feeling knowing that we’re a win away from getting another game, and I feel like once we hit Division 14, we’re equally matched.

“If we can get into that playoff bracket, we might be able to make a run,” added Hollister. “Most Division 14 teams don’t have the depth just like we don’t have the depth.”

If there is one thing Hollister said the team needs to limit, it would be the penalties. Against the Eagles, Artesia was penalized 17 times for 150 yards. Of those, half a dozen were holding infractions and two were personal foul penalties.

“We can’t expect to win with those types of penalties,” said Hollister. “We talked about it at the half and I felt like in the second half, we cleaned it up a lot as far as the offensive penalties. We just have to keep that momentum going into the next game.”

Little went right for the Eagles in the second half as they ran 16 plays for 78 yards. Glenn’s last drive of the game resulted in 45 of those yards, all coming from sophomore running back Tuiono Tuifua who scored on a 17-yard run. Sigala had 94 yards on three carries while Tuifua added 77 yards on 12 carries. Enriquez completed only four passes for 34 yards.

“That stems from our offense not sustaining drives,” said Cruz. “We’re always shooting ourselves in the foot; offsides, can’t go on two. Those are the things that hurt us and those are the things that kill a drive and we just have too many of them.

“Our offense needs to be able to look a little sharper,” he later said. “We have miscues [and] we have incompletes that shouldn’t be incompletes. We throw too many interceptions. So basically, we need to better offensively and keep our defense off the field.”

Glenn ends the regular season tonight against Cerritos (4-5), which has clinched no worse than a tie for the league title. The Dons, like the other league teams, aren’t as solid as the previous few seasons, but have a solid running game of four to five players, led by juniors Jake Bautista and Josh Park and sophomores Dikshanta Adhikari and Kalib Moran, all of whom have combined to gain over 1,100 yards on the ground. The Dons have won two straight over Glenn after losing four straight.

 “I told them next week is our playoff game,” said Cruz. “That’s our playoff, to beat Cerritos. We’re always trying to get a league win. So, we’re going to work hard for Cerritos and hopefully we can end our season on a high note.

“They do a lot of things well,” he continued. “They have a good quarterback [and] they have a pretty good running back. But they do a lot of good things. It looks like a few of their players or quite a few of their players have good football savvy, and sometimes that’s all you need to get you need to get you over the hump.”

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