_____________________________ ST. NORBERT CHURCH           RATES ________________________


WEEK THREE FOOTBALL: Gladden dominates Westminster with five rushing touchdowns as Artesia tames the Lions



Artesia High sophomore linebacker Douglas Ixco (#5) and another teammate chase down Westminster High quarterback Malachi Mesa in last Friday night’s 51-24 home victory. Mesa was sacked six times and intercepted twice by the Pioneers. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer


By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter


In sports, you are always taught to never take a team who is winless lightly. During pregame warmups prior to his team’s home game against Westminster High, who was coming into Atkins Stadium at 0-3, Artesia High head coach Don Olmstead was quick to mention that the Lions were not as bad as their record indicated and that they had moved the ball quite well this season, but just had some unfortunate stops or turnovers in the red zone.

The Pioneers were in a battle for most of the first half, leading by six points until senior quarterback Heder Gladden tossed a 47-yard touchdown strike to senior running back Travys Davis on the last play of the half. The second half would belong to the Pioneers as they came away with a 51-24 win over the Lions last Friday night. Artesia improved to 2-1 and has reached 50 points in both if its victories.

“They’re really well-coached and they do a lot,” Olmstead said of Westminster. “I knew going in that with their different formations, it would give our kids a little trouble just adjusting to it. Then once they adjusted, we were fine. But I knew going in, it would take a little bit of time to get adjusted, and then finally they did and then we played well.”

The night belonged to Davis and Gladden, who combined for nearly 97 percent of Artesia’s offense. Gladden rushed for a game-high 282 yards on 19 carries and scored five touchdowns. He also completed four passes for 86 yards and the one touchdown. Davis added 173 yards on 14 carries while senior wide receivers De’jon Major caught three passes for 39 yards.

Artesia struck first when senior Romel Burgos booted a 37-yard field goal four and a half minutes into the contest. But the Lions quickly had an answer and took an 8-3 lead on a three-yard run from Malachi Mesa with 2:03 left in the first quarter. He would end the game with over 300 yards passing. On the first play of the second quarter, Gladden scored from two yards out before the visitors regained the lead on a 29-yard field goal from Sergio Vega.


Artesia High senior quarterback Heder Gladden was nearly a one-man wrecking crew in his team’s 51-24 win against Westminster High last Friday night. Gladden rushed for 282 yards on 19 carries and scored five touchdowns. He also completed four passes for 86 yards and added another touchdown through the air.



After that, it was all Artesia as Gladden scored again, a 26-yard run, with 3:32 left in the half. He would have five rushes of more than 20 yards in the first half and ended the game with three straight gains of at least 25 yards. Davis would be held in check in the first half with his biggest gains being 34 and 35 yards. But he would have a stronger second half.

“They’re good,” Olmstead said. “We know they were good and we knew what we were getting into. Heder is a good football player; there’s no doubt in that. Travys is a good football player too. They’re a couple of kids who have experience and they’ve started since they were sophomores. We really have to lean on those guys and we need the other seniors to play just as well as them.”

The Pioneers began the second half on a long 10-play drive that lasted 4:17 and ended with a Gladden one-yard sneak to increase the lead to 31-11. That would be the lone score of the third quarter as Artesia’s defense buckled down and limited the Lions to 60 yards on 11 plays in the stanza.

Both teams would combine for three touchdowns within the first 3:23 of the fourth quarter. First, Gladden scrambled for a 39-yard jaunt, then Mesa connected for a 35-yard score to Jose Diaz. Three plays later, Gladden added a 25-yard score. The last Artesia touchdown came with 3:32 left in the game when junior LaQuan Ware-Morales picked off Mesa and returned the ball 40 yards the other way. On the first play following the pick six, Ware-Morales would intercept another Mesa attempt.

“Our defense, early…they didn’t play very well,” Olmstead said. “They kind of get stuck in a wander mode, where they’re not really focused on what they’re doing. Then once we kind of get over that hump, then they play well.”

The Pioneers, in the middle of three straight home games, will host Vasquez High tonight, which is 1-3 and has scored 64 points. Artesia is hoping to improve to 3-1 and stay right there with the other three teams in the 605 League. Pioneer High leads the way with a 3-1 mark while Cerritos High and John Glenn High are both 2-2. While the first league contest isn’t until Oct. 12, the new league is what everyone had hoped, which is to make it equally competitive for the quartet who are enduring long playoff droughts.

“That’s why we got into it,” Olmstead said. “Those four teams, any game can go back and forth at any moment. That’s what everybody in that group wanted, was just something that’s just a little more competitive, year in and year out in every sport.”