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WEEK SEVEN FOOTBALL: Artesia, minus Gladden, slammed by Western in final non-league game

Artesia High junior quarterback P.J. Holmes gets off a pass against Western High in last Friday night’s 72-31 loss. Holmes was making his first start for Artesia, replacing senior Heder Gladden, who injured his ankle the previous week. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer


By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter


The Artesia High football team found out what it’s like not to have senior quarterback Heder Gladden suited up and on the field. Gladden tweaked his ankle against Segerstrom High on Sept. 28 and was in civilian clothes when the Pioneers hosted Western High last Friday night on homecoming night.

But with or without Gladden, who leads the team with 1,096 yards on the ground and another 555 through the air, the Pioneers were overmatched by the top-ranked team in the CIF-Southern Section Division 11 poll and were dominated 72-31. Western scored on all 10 possessions and ran away from Artesia in the second half, outscoring the hosts 30-7 in the final 24 minutes.

“It’s high school football; you don’t know how the kids are going to react,” said Artesia head coach Don Olmstead. “And we didn’t play well tonight. There’s no sugarcoating it. We just didn’t play well. It is what it is, and we’ll move on from this.”

On Artesia’s third play from scrimmage, and down 7-0, Caine Savage picked off junior quarterback P.J. Holmes at midfield and returned the ball to the three-yard line. On the next play, Anthony Munoz tossed a three-yard score to Cassius Savage and Artesia knew it would have to match score for score and get a few defensive stops.

Not even midway through the first quarter, Holmes got his team on the board with a 13-yard run up the middle. Following another Munoz to Cassius Savage touchdown, senior running back Travys Davis made it 21-14 with a three-yard run.

But less than a minute later, Munoz threw his fourth touchdown pass of the quarter to make it 28-14. Munoz was true on all eight of his first quarter attempts for 185 yards and would end the game 16 of 17 for 362 yards and six touchdowns.

Both teams went back and forth in the second quarter with Artesia getting a 25-yard field from senior Romel Burgos and a 14-yard touchdown run from Davis. In fact, neither team would punt in the first half and Artesia would punt once in the contest, which came in the fourth quarter. Artesia would have punted a second time, but a bad snap from center went through the end zone four plays into the second half for a safety and a 44-24 lead.

“I think we got beat up front pretty bad on both sides of the ball,” Olmstead said. “We just weren’t physical, so we have to get back to the drawing boards to see what we can do next week to get a win.”

The final Artesia touchdown came with 7:36 left in the third quarter when Holmes found senior wingback Leroy Gladden open for a 29-yard hookup. It would be just the second pass, and the last one of the night Holmes would complete. He did lead Artesia with 162 yards on 13 carries while Davis added 52 yards on 19 touches.

“I thought P.J. did well,” Olmstead said. “We put a small package in and we just ran out of stuff he has practiced. Being a sit-out period kid, he didn’t practice a ton coming into it. So, I thought he did well. I knew going into the game we had to play defense and our offensive line had to play well, and neither one of those things happened.”


Artesia High senior running back Travys Davis gets away from James Mendoza of Western High in last Friday night’s 72-31 loss. Davis rushed for 52 yards on 19 carries and scored twice. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer


Artesia (4-3 overall) has now yielded over 20 points in all seven games and 40 or more points in three games as it gets set to visit John Glenn High tonight at Excelsior Stadium in the first 605 League contest. Both teams have the ability to put up over 50 points, which means the game will be won by whoever has the better defense.

“We know that we’re not good enough to play bad and beat anybody,” Olmstead said. “But if we play bad, we can lose to anyone. Tonight, you saw us play against a good team and we played bad. So, you have the combination of both. Against Glenn, we’ll find out who we’re about.”