The Salt River High School Eagles varsity football team played its first home game on August 31 against the Chandler Prep Titans. The Titans came in at 0-1, and both teams played a tough and exciting game.
The game started off with Chandler Prep leading 9-0. In the second quarter, the Eagles caught up and more, making the score at halftime 9-22. Seniors Lorenzo Ruiz and Richie Marez both scored touchdowns.
With 54 seconds remaining in the game, the Eagles took a 36-30 lead. Chandler made a successful touchdown pass and got the extra point, going from 30 to 37. The final score was 37-36.
“We actually scored a touchdown to take the lead with under a minute left in the game, and then they scored on the very next play and earned an extra point,” said Coach Brandon Tauscher. “We worked really hard [in] that game, and our offensive game was pretty good. We had the lead at halftime; I kind of felt it was stolen from us in that game.”
The Eagles’ first away game, on August 24 against Gilbert Christian, was a match-up between the teams in both size and speed. Senior Richie Marez made two touchdowns and Daniel Lopez one. Coach Tauscher said it was going to be a pretty competitive game. “Last year they beat Salt River at their home game, but the Eagles have been watching last year’s film over and over.
“We had a touchdown called back, pretty much a rundown to the five-yard line and the first break of the game for us,” said Tauscher. The Eagles got called back with a holding penalty, then had a turnover. “We had a fumble, and on the next game they scored on a long pass.”
That put the Eagles in a punt situation. “Lloyd Lewis, who was the punter, called a fake punt and was unprotected at the time; they came at his legs and he ended his game with an ankle injury,” said Tauscher.
Then Gilbert Christian scored two quick touchdowns to bring the score to 22-0 at halftime. Regrouping after the shock of losing their team leader, the Eagles made some adjustments and ended up outscoring Gilbert Christian, although in the end it wasn’t enough to win.
“That game was a challenge; that team is a very good team,” said Tauscher. The final score was Gilbert Christian 36 and Salt River 18.
Tauscher said the first three games of the season are the toughest games on their schedule this year, noting that it was a challenge for the Eagles, who also faced some injuries.
“We are averaging about 300 rushing yards a game. Our offense is holding up pretty steady, but we are giving up a lot of points,” he said. “But overall I think we are getting better, and the next five games should be competitive, [with Salt River] the favorite in most of those games.”