A live and ready 2019 Senior Night crowd welcomed the Palo Verde High School (PVHS) Yellow Jackets at Scott Stadium, Oct. 4, as the home team took on the visiting Southwest EC Eagles of El Centro, Calif.
The Jackets’ array of offense exchanged leads with the visiting Eagles throughout, ending in an entertaining 37-34 win for PVHS.
The last time the Jackets took a win over the Southwest EC Eagles was at home on Oct. 18, 2013, by the score of 28-25.
“That’s what football’s all about,” noted PVHS head football coach Wally Grant. “Even if we’d come up short, it was still a fun game. The kids were in a game against a team that they haven’t beaten in a while, so it’s all part of building this culture and this program back up to where it belongs.”
The first quarter saw the Jackets establish their young running back corps early with standouts Aizik Gonzales (5), Xavier Gonzales-Piñon (21) and Markus Macon (2) racking up yardage.
Gonzales, a sophomore, led the team in scoring with a total of 18 points on the night, while freshman Macon led in all-purpose yards with 270.
“(The Eagles) have to respect (our running backs),” noted Grant, also crediting the exciting playmaking tandem of senior Jackets wide receivers Alejandro Lee (6) and Josiah Edwards-Love (22). “Because we run the ball so much – and they’re afraid one of our backs are going to break a 70-yard run – they have to play that defense. Which now leaves our wide receivers to do what they’re more than capable of doing.”
Southwest EC’s quarterback Nathan Holguin (7) and running back Benji Alvarez (1) responded throughout the second quarter, with the first half box score seeing a 21-18 score in favor of the Eagles following a passing and two rushing touchdowns to close the first half.
Despite finding limited success with two-point conversions, the Jackets maintained a committed approach to the ground game and extra point attempts throughout.
“No (second thoughts). This was going to be a big scoring game,” noted Grant post-game. “If I can get four, five out of those two points – that’s a touchdown that we don’t have to score that they’ve got to make up. So no, there was no second guessing (on the two-point conversion attempts) or none of that. This was going to be a high scoring game and I needed to be able to figure out a way to cheat the scoreboard to get some more points.”
In the third, Joseph Enders Jr. (5) of Southwest EC rushed into the end zone to push the Eagles’ lead to 28-18.
Immediately following, the Jackets’ standout senior captain Lee responded by finding a crease and running a kickoff return back to narrow the Eagles lead to 28-24. Lee also snagged an interception at the 7:46 mark of the third.
With the relentless rushing games of Gonzales-Piñon and Gonzales, Macon also found the end zone for the Jackets in the third to take the lead, 30-28, in favor of the home team – however, the Eagles’ Enders Jr. answered by finding the end zone after returning the kickoff to switch the box score lead yet again, 34-30, to close the third.
The fourth proved to be a battle for control of the clock and pivotal possessions by both teams, with Jackets’ senior captain quarterback Chase Schriner (4) and the Eagles’ Holguin managing their respective squads through each crucial down.
Notably, Edwards-Love snagged a highlight reel one-handed 45-yard catch at 3rd and 14, with 8:40 left in the fourth quarter. The standout Jackets receiver also snagged a crucial interception from the Eagles near the one yard line with 2:47 to go in the game.
The pivotal play was followed up by Macon, who rushed for a big gain to set the Jackets up at about midfield.
With a little over two minutes left, Schriner linked up with Lee for the game’s final touchdown to put the Jackets up 37-34, following a successful extra point.
“There’s not a lot of programs that can cover two good receivers. They can get away with one because they usually have a good corner – but not very many programs have two real good corners,” said Grant. “(A) signature win for (our seniors tonight). They’re the ones that are building the foundation (...) I fully anticipate that in three, four, or five years that we’ll be a top dog program in this or any other division that they put us in.”
(Editor’s Note: For all of the game's photos, like and visit the photo album section of our social media page at: facebook.com/blythenews. Next week’s issue [Oct. 16] will include the PVHS Yellow Jackets seniors’ photos, who were recognized with family during halftime.)