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WEEK EIGHT FOOTBALL – Artesia’s Williams supplies the scoring, defense handles John Glenn in second half

 

JOHN GLENN HIGH senior running back Iona Young tries to elude the grasp of Artesia High sophomore defensive back Exequiel Kyle Hilario in last Friday night’s 605 League opener. Young ran for 133 yards on 19 carries and accounted for 83 percent of Glenn’s offense but it was the Pioneers who came out on top, 32-14, giving Artesia its first win of the season. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.

 

October 19, 2021

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

 

Artesia High football head coach Don Olmstead was a little worried that his team had not been in any close games entering the 605 League opener last Friday night against John Glenn High. The Pioneers have played six contests this fall whose combined record is 28-17, been shutout in half of them and scored 40 points, no more than 20 points in any one game.

The way the CIF-Southern Section has restructured its divisions for the football playoffs, your non-league slate is probably not as important as it used to be. Long story short: win your league or finish in second place, which will guarantee you a spot in the playoffs. Artesia rode the legs of its two offensive stars, senior quarterback K’Len Williams and senior running back Erin Moses for all but six yards gained on the ground and its defense stymied the Eagles in the second half during a 32-14 win on homecoming night. The contest featured two of the league’s top running backs in Moses and senior Iona Young of Glenn. But the Eagles turned the ball over five times, two of them leading to scores, and were held to 55 yards in the second half while gaining two first downs.

“We made a couple of mistakes early; we let [Iona Young] go, obviously,” Olmstead said. “He was our game plan, and they ran some good stuff that kind of caught us off guard. So, we just kind of adjusted and just fixed some mistakes we thought we were going to make. and it turned out well. We played better in the second half, especially on defense. We took some stuff away that they did well; we took [Young] away mainly and forced them to throw the ball a little bit.”

The game began badly for Glenn as Artesia junior defensive back Robert Magdaleno picked off senior quarterback Nataniel Jacobo less than two minutes in. Three plays later, Williams got the Pioneers on the board with a one yard sneak after a brief three-play drive and would be the first of all five of Artesia’s touchdowns. But the Eagles were not to be denied just yet because three plays after the Williams touchdown, Young busted loose for a 67-yard jaunt and with a two-point conversion run from Jacobo, the Eagles took an 8-6 lead.

When Glenn had the ball again, Moses picked off Jacobo at the 19-yard line. That did not result in a score, but the Eagles were able to add to their lead early in the second quarter when Jacobo tossed a seven-yard pass to Young. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful, and Glenn was looking good with a 14-6 lead. The Pioneers responded in a big way by going on a 17-play drive that began at their 27-yard line and consumed nearly eight minutes. When it had concluded, Williams went in from four yards out. The half ended with senior defensive back Adrian Martinez intercepting Jacobo with 18.6 seconds left before the break.

Olmstead said he liked the fact that even though his team was trailing by a point at the half, they found a way to win. In the previous six games, the closest Artesia had been at the half was when it trailed 35-13 at Valley Christian High on Oct. 13. Meanwhile, Glenn head coach David Cruz had a bad feeling even though his team was leading 14-13.

“I did like the way we responded in the first half,” he admitted. “I believe we had a lot of energy in the first half; the kids knew the game was important. But come the second half, we lost that fire we had in the first half.”

It would go from good to bad to worse in a heartbeat in the third quarter for the Eagles, losers of six straight games. Artesia had the ball to begin the second half and went on a 12-play, 69 yard drive that chewed up 6:33 and ended with a 14-yard run around the right side from Williams. On Glenn’s third play of the half, Young had the ball stripped from his arms by senior lineman Ivan Lopez at midfield which led to Williams scoring on another 14-yard run to give the hosts a commanding 25-14 lead. In fact, in the third quarter alone, the Eagles ran five plays for 11 yards but had four penalties for 33 yards.

“The stripped fumble was huge,” Olmstead said. “That’s Ivan; that’s a senior and he’s played both ways for us. He’s a little banged up, but he played and got a little better tonight. Obviously a stripped fumble makes you feel a little better and makes all the pains go away. That was great for him, and I think that was the big turning point in the game.”

“That’s when I think we lost our focus,” Cruz said. “You could see some of our kids’ heads go down, but I don’t know the reason why they lost that fire. I’m scrambling for answers right now. They just couldn’t respond. If Iona doesn’t make a big play, I’m not sure we can throw our way out of it. Nataniel struggled today and it makes me wonder where I go from here with that.

“If we can’t throw the ball, [teams] are just going to put 10 guys in the box,” he continued. “Why cover wide receivers when they can just stop Iona? I don’t want us to become that, especially with Iona going to the hospital right now with a twisted ankle.”

On the second to its last possession of the game, Young was pushed out of bounds following a two-yard gain and slipped on top of the bench where he twisted his ankle. Young rushed for 133 yards on 19 carries while Jacobo, who completed five of 16 passes for 44 yards, added another 14 yards on six rushes.

“It doesn’t look like he’s reading the coverage very well; that he’s just focusing on one particular wide receiver and throwing it to him regardless of whether or not he’s coming or not,” Cruz said of his signal caller. “Those are the things we’re trying to teach him; to read the defense and to be able to throw to the open area.”

The final touchdown from Williams, another one-yard sneak, came a little over three minutes into the final stanza and completed a six-play drive. Artesia scored on four straight possessions, each lasting at least six plays. Williams led everyone with 139 yards on 24 carries while Moses picked up 102 yards on 22 carries. Williams also completed three passes for 25 yards.

“I think in the redzone, K’Len is tough to stop,” Olmstead said. “He’s a big body and when he gets his pad level down, he’s hard to stop. K’Len puts himself in position to score, especially when we get down to the goal line.”

If things weren’t bad enough for the Eagles, they faced Cerritos High on a short week as that game was played on Oct. 21. The Dons are coming off a 56-24 win at Pioneer High last Thursday to snap a three-game losing skid. Cerritos, which blasted Glenn 56-0 last season, entered the contest 3-5 overall and had scored 106 points in five of eight games played while being blanked in the other three contests. A win by Glenn would keep its playoff hopes alive but a loss would put Cerritos in a position to win the league for the second straight season.

“They do a lot of things well,” Cruz said of Cerritos. “They have a lot of good team speed, and it looks like they know how to play football. There are guys with football savvy. They’re going to cause a lot of trouble for us, and then they believe that they can beat us because of the score from last year. They’re going to come in with a lot of confidence and we’re going to be struggling. We’re going to have to overcome a huge mountain. I’ll prepare my guys and hopefully they’ll fight. But it’s going to have to last for two halves next week, not just two quarters.”

Meanwhile, Artesia will visit Pioneer tonight in a battle of 1-6 teams. In their two meetings as 605 League opponents Artesia has blasted the Titans by a combined score of 107-53. Pioneer, like Glenn, needs a win to stay alive for the playoffs.

“We are worried so much about ourselves right now and getting ourselves in a position where we can better every week that we don’t really turn the page until tonight,” Olmstead said. “So once tonight is over, then we’ll move onto Pioneer. Obviously, Cerritos did pretty well. I think Pioneer played pretty well in the beginning of the game from what I heard. Every game is going to be a dog fight. We’re not good enough to go out there and say, ‘we’re Artesia and we’re going to win’ and just win. We have to play well every single week to win.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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