The Islanders week two matchup was the definition of a grinder. And with another Friday night game packed with fans, the Islanders treated those in attendance to another thriller in their 13-7 victory over Sweetwater.
The first quarter set the tone quite well for how the rest of the night would unfold. The Red Devils would come out running the Wishbone offense. A scheme type that is rarely run-in modern football. “We knew that is what they would be running all night” said Islanders head coach Kurt Hines. “But our team did a great job of not getting worn down and continuing to stay with their assignments and fly to the football.”
But despite the unorthodox offense from Sweetwater, the Islander defense would not be fooled, as the Islander’s defense would stack the box and regularly make tackles for loss. Whether it was Gunnar Tonkin, JT Nelson, Zane Declore, or another Islander in black, Coronado was living in the Sweetwater backfield.
However, while the Coronado defense was firing on all cylinders, the Coronado offense would be a bit slow out of the gate. It's not that the Islanders would be unable to move the ball in the first. It’s just that it seemed to lack the ability to sustain a drive.
After a scoreless first, the Islander’s offense looked to get things moving in the right direction. And on their first drive of the 2nd quarter, it appeared as if they would. On the first play of the quarter, QB Hudson Herber would run a QB draw for a 21-yard gain, pushing Coronado to the Sweetwater 47-yard line.
But the promising start to the drive would soon fizzle after a pair of Sweetwater sacks would force Coronado to punt.
While the Coronado offense still was trying to iron out their issues, the Coronado defense would continue to cause problems for the Sweetwater offense. On the next two possessions for the Red Devils, the Coronado defense would allow 0 net yards. The Islander would also tally two sacks, one from Delcore and another by Donny Couts, and three other tackles for loss courtesy of Asa Valdivia and Gunnar Tokin.
To cap off their fantastic first-half showing, the Islanders defense would even force and recover a fumble to set up the offense on the Red Devils 19-yard line with 40.1 seconds left in the first half.
Despite the first-half struggles, the offense would not waste the short field. On first down, Herber would find Elisa Valdivia for six yards, moving the ball to the 13-yard line with 32.1 seconds left in the 2nd quarter.
On the very next play, Herber would throw a beautiful touch pass to the back left corner on the end zone where Graham Bower would make an impressive sliding catch for the Touchdown, giving the Islander the 7-0 lead at the half.
At the start of the 3rd quarter, the Islanders would quickly add to their lead, but not in the way you may think. On the Red Devils' 3rd play of their opening half drive, they would run what appeared to be 15-yard counterplay.
However, while fighting for the extra yard a Coronado defender would strip the ball free, where it would land in the hands of Finley Alexander. Alexander would then scamper past everyone down the far sideline for a 50-yard scoop and score TD, extending the Coronado lead to 13-0 just minutes into the 3rd quarter.
“Finley has been huge to have back on the team.” said Hines “He was all over the place on defense last night. We’re still trying to get the ball to him more on offense, but his impact on the field and this team is really evident.”
Unfortunately, the Islanders 13-point lead would be short-lived. Following a three and out by the Coronado offense, the Red Devils would block the Islander’s punt and take over at the Coronado 27-yard line.
Sweetwater would waste no time capitalizing on the blocked put as their running back Javier Sanchez would bust off a 27-yard TD run to make it a 13-7 game with 6:51 left to play in the 3rd.
Despite the minor hiccup by the Coronado defense, the Islander’s Defense would return to their stonewalling way’s as they would keep the game scoreless for the rest of the 3rd and keep us at 13-7 heading to a pivotal 4th quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter the Red Devils wishbone/ground and pound offense looked as if maybe starting to wear the Islanders defense down just a bit. Sweetwater would drive inside the Coronado 20-yard line and look as if they were going to tie the game, but the Coronado defense had other plans.
On 2nd and seven from the Islanders, 17-yard-line Logan Eastlick would strip the ball from the Red Devils ball carrier and recover the fumble. A massive red-zone turnover to keep Sweetwater out of the endzone.
After the turnover, the Islanders offense was able to pick up a pair of first downs thanks to hard runs by Hudson Herber and Zane Declore. But just when it appeared the Islanders would be able to start bleeding the clock, they would fumble and give the ball right back to Sweetwater with 8:20 left in the fourth quarter.
But on this Friday night, it would not matter, as the Coronado defense would yet again refuse to give up an inch. On both first and second down Zane Delcore and Logan Eastlick would record tackles for loss.
I asked coach Hines about Delcore’s play this season, he told me “Zane has been huge for us this season. He has made big plays on both sides of the ball. He is just such a selfless player who does anything we ask him to.”
With time running out the Red Devils would attempt to go for it on 4th down, but Asa Valdivia and Logan Eastlick would stop Sweetwater short of the line to gain, giving the ball back to the offense with 5:15 to play.
All the Coronado offense had to do now was sustain a drive and burn some clock. That would be tested early in the drive on a 4th and inches on the Sweetwater 33 with 4:10 to play.
On the play, it looked as if QB Hudson Herber would be stopped short of the line to gain, but the 2nd year signal-caller would make an acrobatic play to make an unblocked man miss and scoot forward for the first down.
The Islanders would pick up another two first downs thanks to an 11-yard rush by Delcore and a 3rd and four completion from Herber to Gunnar Tokin, all but icing the game for the Islander.
Sweetwater would have one more shot to mount a drive after a muffed kneel by Coronado, but on their final play of the game, Gunnar Tonkin would record a sack to put an exclamation point on the Islanders 13-7 victory.
Now at 1-1, Coronado will hit the road next week as they will travel to El Capitan to face off against the Vaqueros in a non-league matchup.