It was a good ole fashion shootout between the Islanders and Vaqueros this last Friday night at El Capitan High School. In front of a rowdy and fun crowd, the two teams battle like two heavyweights, dealing blow for blow with the Islanders coming out on top 33-28.
“For much of the first two weeks our defense had been playing lights out and the offense wasn’t getting the results we wanted,” said Head Coach Kurt Hines “So to see the offensive execute very efficiently this week was encouraging”
The Islander’s offense would come out of the gate firing thanks to a 47-yard touchdown run by Zane Delcore on the first play from scrimmage. Giving the Islanders the 7-0 lead just minutes into the first quarter. A brief glimpse into what the rest of this game would hold.
On the ensuing Vaqueros possession, the Islander defense would allow a few chunk plays. El Capitan to work its way inside the RedZone. But despite being backed into a corner, the Islander’s defense would not yield a score. Thanks to some great run-stuffing tackles from Asa Valdivia, Delcore, and Donny Couts Coronado would force a turnover on downs. Giving the ball right back to the offense.
Coronado’s following drive would fizzle out, but a fantastic punt would help the Islander flip field position and pin the Vaqueros deep on their end to start the second quarter.
Both teams would trade punts to start the second quarter. But on the Islander’s third offensive drive of the night, they would yet again find pay dirt.
With QB Hudson Herber standing at his 25-yard line the second-year signal-caller would roll to his right and toss up a 50/50 ball that would be caught by Graham Bower, who would break one tackle and take it to the house for the 75-yard TD. Giving Coronado the 14-0 lead with 8:45 left to play in the second.
“Hudson had great touch on a lot of his passes and threw the ball extremely well on Friday,” said Hines “I think all night he made very wise decisions in the pocket and handled the pressure really well.”
With the Coronado offense driving & thriving the defense knew they would have to get the ball back to them. And they would do just that. On the ensuing Vaqueros drive Delcore would strip the ball from the El Capitan QB and Elisa Valdivia would recover, A huge turnover.
The drive would start with a quick hitter to Donny Couts for 11 yards. On the following play, Delcore would bust off another massive run, this one for 46-yards. With Coronado at El Capitan’s 11-yard line. Two plays later Herber would call his number with an 11-yard QB draw TD, giving Coronado a commanding 20-0 lead with 5:52 left in the first half.
El Capitan would finally get on the board on their next possession thanks to their 75-yard TD pass. Making it a 20-7 game with 4:34 to play in the first half.
However, Coronado would again respond, as it would only take them four plays to go 66 yards for yet another TD, with the drive capped off by a beautiful pass from Herber to Finley Alexander, who would simply bully his defender in the one on one matchup, for the 27-yard touchdown catch, making it a 26-7 game.
But in the late minutes of the first half El Capitan would strike again with another long pass, this one 51-yards to make it a 26-14 game at the half.
Overall It was the most dominant offensive first half of football the Islander’s offense had played this season. And a big reason for it was the great push the Islanders got from their offensive line. Which constantly created holes for the Islander baller carriers to run through.
“The O-line was fantastic all night,” said Hines “They gave us a great push up front in the run game and did a great job in pass protection. They were difference makers.”
For all the scoring in the first half, things would cool down considerably in the third. Neither team would be able to score. For the Islanders, it was their ability to rush the passer and shut down deep threats that kept the Vaqueros off the board. In the 3rd Couts, Valdivia, JT Nelson, and Delcore all would record a sack. In the secondary, it would be Connor Little who would lead the way with an impressive four-pass breakup.
But the scoring hiatus could last for so long. On the Islander’s last drive of the quarter, the fireworks would again return. The drive would start with yet another chunk rush from Delcore, this one a 20-yard carry.
Two plays later the Islanders would again move the chains on a 13-yard pitch and catch from Herber to Elias Valdivia. Now at the Vaqueros 40, Herber would yet again look for the big play. And yet again he would find it, as Donny Couts would “Moss” his defender and bring down the 40-yard TD pass to make it a 33-14 game.
But the Vaqueros would not go away without a fight. On two of their first three drives of the fourth, the Vaqueros would hit on big TD passes, making it a 33-28 in a blink of an eye.
With it now just a one-score game, the Islander defense knew it would need to put together a drive to burn the clock and run this game down. The Islander’s final drive would start with a nice rush from Herber. On the following player, the Islanders would run a double reverse which would see Elisa Valdivia pick up yet another clutch first down. Coronado would be able to get the game clock down to under a minute.
With one final Vaqueros possession, the Islander defense would step up big thanks to a sack from JT Nelson and a game-sealing tackle for loss from Connor Little.
For the second straight week the Islanders proved they know how to close out a game, and for a team that is looking to win back to back league titles they are going to need more gritty performances like these.
Now at 2-1, the Islanders will look to make it three in a row this Friday as they travel to take on the Mariners of Mar Vista.