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WEEK THREE FOOTBALL – Young Artesia squad shows some electricity in second quarter before lights go out in tie game

The power was knocked out during halftime and again in the middle of the second half of Artesia High’s football game against Marquez High last Friday night, but that didn’t stop the Artesia cheerleaders from providing some entertainment. The game ended in a 21-21 tie. Photo by Loren Kopff.


September 14, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

Artesia High was looking for any momentum after getting beat up in its first two games of the season, and it looked grim when Marquez scored 14 points in the opening 8:35 of last Friday night’s game at Atkins Stadium. But a furious second-quarter rally sent the Pioneers into the halftime break tied with the Gladiators before the off-the-field drama began.

Nearly halfway into the intermission, the power went out at the stadium after a large flash was seen across East Lakewood, just west of the stadium. Power was restored before halftime concluded and the Pioneers got the ball to begin the second half. They marched 46 yards on 12 plays before the lights went out again with 5:59 left in the stanza.

After a lengthy delay by school officials and members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, a decision was made to halt the game with a final score of 21-21.

According to Artesia co-athletic director Joe Veach, the sheriffs said there was a traffic accident that took out a power pole at Pioneer Blvd. and 206th Street. Moments later, another power pole caught on fire. Veach received the information from Artesia principal Sergio Garcia, who was told from the sheriffs.

“I got with the coaches and the refs and said, ‘let’s give it until 9:15 to see if [the lights] come back on’, which I think would have been about 30 minutes after it went out the last time,” said Veach. “If we didn’t set a time limit…we would have been out here all night.”

“There was a car accident over on Pioneer and they said there was a live wire in the street,” said Artesia first-year head coach Nate Hollister. “They gave us a 20-minute grace period to see if we can keep the game going and it just didn’t happen. I guess the accident was pretty serious.”

The Gladiators began the game going 65 yards on seven plays, ending with Anthony Rosales tossing a five-yard score to Oscar Salas. Following a three and out, Marquez needed two plays to make it 14-0 compliments of a 58-yard run from Jonathan Aguirre. That would be the extent of the Marquez offense the rest of the night as it would run 11 more plays, gaining 44 yards and punting twice while having the half end on an interception.

Meanwhile, the Pioneers (0-2-1) put together probably its best drive of the season, running out the first quarter with eight plays, then beginning the second quarter at the Marquez four-yard line. Three plays later, sophomore quarterback Julius Padilla scored on a six-yard run. That momentum was short-lived as Lamont White returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards and with 10:07 left in the half, it was 21-7.

“It was kind of demoralizing, but the energy of the kids…we knew what it was,” said Hollister. “The kid who missed the tackle said, ‘coach, my bad. I’ll make up for it on offense’. And he did. That ensuing drive, he made up for it. We just kept fighting back, got back in the game, tied it up, and we were ready to go until the power outage.”

With 7:15 remaining in the stanza, the Pioneers started their fourth drive of the game at their own 25-yard line and rushed nine times for 70 yards to get back in the contest. The drive ended with 1:59 remaining as freshman running back Kamari Westley went in from 10 yards out. Following a bad snap on fourth down, Artesia was back in business at the Marquez 14-yard line. An offside penalty led to Padilla’s eight-yard strike to junior wide receiver Ezequiel Hilario. Padilla would add a two-point conversion run and just like that, the game was tied.

Padilla, Westley and senior running back Raymel Muldrew would keep the offense going in the second half, combining for 52 yards on the ground while junior wide receiver Pablo Cruz caught a nine-yard pass before the game was halted.

“We’ve seen those guys starting to get tired over there and we started pushing our tempo,” said Hollister. “We normally push it too much, but as soon as we noticed they were out of shape, we kind of stepped on the gas and accelerated. They were trying to sub in and out, but they couldn’t because of our tempo, and we took advantage of that.

“We’ve pushed the tempo a lot in practice; our practices are way harder than our games are supposed to be,” he continued. “I’m just glad that these guys got that losing out of their system. Even though this wasn’t a win, I’m proud that they came and fought, and I really felt if we didn’t have a power outage, we would have finished strong.”

Padilla, who completed three passes for 43 yards, led the Pioneers with 79 yards on 20 carries. Westley added 57 yards on six carries and Muldrew another 28 yards on seven touches. When the season began, Padilla wasn’t even listed as the team’s number one signal caller. But when freshman Charlie Lopez fractured his elbow in the second quarter against Santa Paula High on Sept. 2, Hollister had to go to his next option. Lopez will be sidelined for a few weeks or probably until the 605 League opener on Oct. 13, according to Hollister.

“[Padilla] has embraced the role,” said Hollister. “I told him, ‘I know you’re one of the younger guys, but you and Kamari are going to carry this team. We have a freshman and a sophomore and you guys play above your grade, though’. I feel like a lot of people are overlooking us, especially when [freshman quarterback] Charlie [Lopez] got hurt. But Julius said, ‘coach, I got it’. He spent the whole week in my office, and we were just teaching him how to play quarterback. He just picked up the position pretty fast.”

As the program’s hew head coach, Hollister knew his team would be taking its lumps early in the season. The team currently has five seniors, one of whom is senior defensive tackle Avery Towning, who returned a fumble 34 yards for the team’s other touchdown of the season in the opener against Garden Grove High. There are 12 juniors, eight sophomores and three freshmen on the team along with the upperclassmen.

“I’m proud of my guys, really,” said Hollister. “We’ve worked hard for it. It was just the first two games, we were outmatched. The one thing with us in those first two games, is that we don’t have a [junior varsity] program. So, the majority of my kids came up from frosh/soph and had to play varsity and the game was too fast for them in the first two games. Now it’s slowing down and people are going to start seeing better results.”

Next up for the Pioneers is a home game tonight against Valley Christian High. The Defenders enter the game at 1-3, having lost to Chino High 17-14 last Friday night. Last season, V.C. romped the Pioneers 62-20 in the only meeting between the programs in the past 25 years. Prior to the Chino contest, the Defenders have been more successful passing the ball than running as senior quarterback Kaden Struiksma was 28 of 60 for 382 yards with a pair of touchdowns as even different players have caught passes from him and sophomore Keiran Edmundson. On the ground, Struiksma, senior Major Brown and sophomore Josiah Apisala had combined for 213 yards. After getting whitewashed by El Dorado High in the season opener, V.C. has scored 70 points while allowing 61 points over that time.

“I know they have a new coach over there,” said Hollister. “Coach Nick [Walker] is a great guy. I know they’re pretty much in the same predicament as me. He’s just getting it going and I’m pretty sure his team took a big loss when their last coach left because I’ve seen that their roster size has shrunk tremendously on both their varsity and [junior varsity] programs. It should be a good fight, just like this game here. We’re looking forward to it; I’m sure they’re looking forward to playing us.”