The 2013 Homecoming for Salt River High School on Friday, September 20, was a bittersweet one. The Eagles varsity football team suffered their third loss of the season, to the Phoenix Day School for the Deaf Roadrunners.
After the opening kickoff, a Roadrunner tailback ran the ball straight in to the end zone for the first score of the night. From there on, the Roadrunners’ rushing attack continued to stampede over the Eagles’ defense. Inexperience, penalties, turnovers and injuries have the Eagles looking deep in their roster to fill the gaps.
“We have lots of stuff to improve on, but one thing we need to learn is how to be resilient after we make a mistake. There’s always the next play to make up on, and I think our mistakes just carried over,” said Eagles Head Coach Brandon Tauscher.
Tauscher explained that this is a rebuilding year for the Eagles, and the dynamics of the team are very different from last year. “We are a rushing team. Last year we were the No. 2 team in the country in rushing; [we] averaged 360 yards a game. We don’t have the kind of personnel to do that now. The offense we are currently running also is new for both coaches and players,” Tauscher said.
The new “spread offense” consists of players lining up across the field, opening up the field for more opportunity through passing. Additionally, it forces the opposing team to spread their players to cover the field, creating difficulty to blitz or disguise their defense. On the other hand, if the offense cannot pass the ball successfully or give the quarterback enough time to throw, the result is turnovers and a loss of yardage—the Homecoming game being a case in point.
Tauscher added that despite the mistakes, the team made some plays that impressed the coaching staff. “This is a rebuilding year [for us]. We had some amazing plays that impressed us. A lot of learning is going on, and [the players] are putting in the time on the field and in the classroom. They are really trying. Two of my starting receivers haven’t played AIA varsity football. But this is still fun, it’s still ‘Friday night lights’! I’m very proud of them,” said Tauscher.
No. 3 John Hill, who normally plays tailback, was the starting quarterback and displayed great leadership throughout the game. Accounting for 200 yards rushing on 28 carries and threw for 204 yards on 26 attempts. “I gotta make all the calls; anything that goes wrong is my fault. Lots of pressure I’m not used to,” said the SRHS senior.
“John showed a lot of leadership, and that’s always nice to see. It shows the program moving forward; I am very proud of him,” stated Tauscher.
The outlook for the remainder of the season is uncertain for the Eagles; however, with commitment by the players, more experience on the field and some of starters returning from injury, the Eagles can only benefit, resulting in a strong finish for the 2013 season.
During the homecoming game at Salt River High School on September 20, the 2013 Homecoming Royalty for grades 7-12 were crowned on the 50-yard line at halftime, with more than 300 people in attendance. This year’s Homecoming King and Queen are seniors Eugene Lewis and Marissa Flores.
“I wasn’t really expecting to be king; I was hoping someone else got it. I’m not used to this kind of spotlight,” said Lewis, shyly.
“I’ve never been on Royalty Court before, all through school, so this was kind of a surprise. [It’s the] highlight of my senior year, so far. I would like to say congratulations to the rest of the royalty,” said Flores, smiling and blushing slightly.
Following the crowning, the Salt River High School band played the new fight song and candy was thrown out to the crowd from the pep rally.