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WEEK EIGHT FOOTBALL: Artesia’s Davis outduels John Glenn’s Udengwu in delayed inaugural 605 League football game


By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter


One of two inaugural 605 League football games kicked off last Friday night but because of Mother Nature, Artesia High and John Glenn High had to wait three more days before its contest was completed. Once it did, Artesia senior running back Travys Davis put on a display that could help the Pioneers vault into the CIF-Southern Section Playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Held to 49 yards on eight carries last Friday night when play was suspended due to lightning around Excelsior Stadium with 8:09 remaining in the second quarter, Davis erupted over the next 32 minutes of game time this past Monday night, finishing the game with 248 yards on 35 carries and scoring a total of four touchdowns, three on the ground. His performance enabled the Pioneers to escape with a 42-28 victory and putting the team in a position to claim the league title. Artesia improved to 5-3 overall and a win over Pioneer High tonight would all but clinch the league crown.

Artesia head coach Don Olmstead said he didn’t make too many adjustments over the weekend, which saw the Pioneers leading 21-20 following a 14-yard run from senior quarterback Heder Gladden. When the game was called, the Pioneers were being held to 87 yards on the ground and 25 yards through the air. Davis had scored from six yards out on Artesia’s first drive of the game and sophomore linebacker Douglas Ixco had recovered a fumble five yards two plays into the second quarter for the other score.

“Offensively, we thought we could get it and run the ball a little bit,” Olmstead said. “I just thought that’s what we matched up well against. They played our spread stuff pretty well, and we just figured that if we get into the tight end stuff, we could run the ball a little bit and let Travys kind of run around.”

On the other side of the field, Glenn head coach Vince Lobendahn and his coaching staff did make minor adjustments, moving players on the edge as opposed to keeping them inside and trying to insert a player to one of the defensive tackle spots.

“[Artesia] found a way to put size where it mattered, and we couldn’t get enough guys in there to stop,” Lobendahn said.

Once play resumed, Artesia’s defense held the Eagles on downs, then Gladden threw a 31-yard score to Davis, ending an eight-play drive that lasted just over three minutes. That seemed to propel the Pioneers as not only did they take a 28-20 halftime lead but added to it on the initial drive of the second half. Artesia took the first five minutes off the clock in the second half, going 60 yards on 10 plays and despite a pair of holding penalties, went up 35-20 following a one-yard run from Davis.

“I think when the game ended [last Friday], it played in our favor because we had just taken the lead,” Olmstead said. “With Heder taking off right before the break and going in and scoring, that was huge momentum for us. Our kids wanted to play that night. I haven’t seen that a lot [this season], but I saw it that night; that they wanted to play. It was kind of heartbreaking that we had to wait, but they were ready to go tonight.”

The Eagles responded after Davis’ touchdown by taking 3:09 off the clock and going 69 yards on 10 plays, ending on a five-yard run from Udengwu. But Davis clinched the game with seven straight rushes, the last going for an eight-yard score with 58.2 seconds left in the third quarter. In the second half alone, Davis had 24 of Artesia’s 27 rushes. He also caught two passes for 36 yards.

“Travys is good; he’s a good football player and I’m glad he’s on our team,” Olmstead said. “He’s one of those kids who’s going to be mentally ready every week. If we played on Monday at midnight, he would be ready to play.”

Meanwhile, Glenn was trying stay with the Pioneers and Udengwu was a big part of it. He ended with 199 yards on 15 carries but did not touch the ball in the fourth quarter as Glenn was forced into a passing situation, down by 14 points.

After Davis gave the Pioneers a 6-0 lead on a six-yard run, the hosts tied the game on the first of Udengwu’s four touchdowns, this one from 43 yards out. When the Eagles got the ball back, he scored on a two-yard run, plus the two-point conversion to make it 14-6 with 3:10 left in the first quarter. Touchdown number three was an 85-yard run on the first play following Ixco’s touchdown, making it 20-14. And while Glenn’s defense forced Artesia to punt just past the midway part of the fourth quarter, Glenn was unable to find the endzone on either of its two drives and had the ball for 2:39 of the final stanza.

“In the fourth quarter, adjustments were starting to show up in the passing game where our completions were not being there as much,” Lobendahn said. “We haven’t relied on the passing game as much.”

“He’s a good football player; he runs around and makes plays,” Olmstead said. “That’s why we threw Heder and Travys in the game. We figured our two best guys on the edge against their best guy in the backfield. I think we’ll win, and that’s what happened at the end of the game. Once we got up two scores, we knew they had to throw the ball.”

Pioneer, which completed its game with Cerritos High this past Monday night, will visit Artesia tonight in a battle for first place. The Titans knocked off the Dons 37-13. Meanwhile, the Eagles will welcome Cerritos with the loser pretty much knocked out of the playoff race.

“We’re going in this with we’re in the playoffs right now, and we have to win out and then we get into the real playoffs,” Olmstead said. “When you get three league games, every game is a playoff game. You have to win them all to be league champion. If you win two out of three, potentially, you’re in the playoffs. Our kids knew that going in that this was a big one. Now we have to turn the page tomorrow and get on to Pioneer.”

“Depending on what adjustments they had from last year, it’s a similar thing where they’re athletic in some spots, but vacant in some spots,” Lobendahn said of Cerritos. “And I don’t know what I’m seeing out there yet. In many ways, I’m worried about what could be out there in the passing game. I hear their running game isn’t so bad either.”