During the season-opening football game played against the Tanque Verde Hawks on August 27 at Salt River High School, the Salt River Eagles varsity team’s offense came alive near the end of the first quarter. Running back Robert Norris took the handoff from quarterback Luis Lopez and rushed nearly 50 yards for their first touchdown of the game, and the Eagles trailed 14-6. With 22.1 seconds left to play in the first half, the Hawks headed into the locker room up 17-6.
David Novak of Tanque Verde broke out into a 53-yard run in their first possession of the third quarter. Salt River had the ball with third down and one yard to go on the 45-yard line, but was unable to convert. The Hawks took over and executed another touchdown to jump ahead 38-6. Phil Harlow of Tanque Verde broke two tackles before finding the end zone, but the Hawks missed the field goal.
On the Eagles’ next possession, Lorenzo Ruiz ran in for a 9-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 45-14 with less than two minutes left to play in the game. As the Eagles kicked off to the Hawks, Michael Mellgren returned the ball for a touchdown on the other end and capped off the 52-14 win over Salt River.
Eagles Head Coach Troy Head said despite the loss he was very pleased with the team’s effort.
“We played all four quarters and never gave up,” he said. “We are young and our inexperience showed, as we made too many small mistakes. All of the mistakes are correctable.”
Head said he was happy with the running game, but players struggled to stick with their blocks.
“We made too many mental mistakes on offense, and those little mistakes killed our drives. We need to improve in those areas if we expect to win football games,” he said.
According to Head, Tanque Verde was very disciplined and they made the Eagles pay for every mistake.
“Defensively we played aggressive, but again, we just made too many mental mistakes and had blown assignments,” he said.
The Eagles started four freshmen in the game. Head said they just need to get them (the young players) more experience in game situations and they will improve. He said the kids have a lot of talent and just really need the experience.
Running the ball in the games ahead will be a key for Salt River, Head said.
“So far I am very pleased with the kids’ attitude and their overall willingness to work hard and get better,” Head said. “If the kids continue to keep their grades up, come to practice every day, work hard, and listen, I feel that we will be able to compete with anyone on our schedule.”
Head is optimistic about the upcoming season, and the team is ready for their next challenge.