Friday, October 7, 2022

Strong second half lifts RedHawks over Yreka

The RedHawks’ Hayden McCarty races toward the end zone in the fourth quarter of Colusa’s game with Yreka on Sept. 2.

It wasn’t last Friday’s scorching daytime temperatures that caused the Colusa RedHawks to catch fire, but rather the cooler evening air that helped them come alive in the second half of their home opener and ultimately shut out the visiting Yreka Miners 28-0.

Defense was the story for the RedHawks early on, as they rose to the occasion by putting the game’s first points on the board just two minutes into the contest.

It occurred after holding Yreka to a three and out on the game’s initial possession, when the Miners attempted a punt that was blocked by Isaiah Travis and alertly recovered by teammate Julian Velasquez for a touchdown.

Throughout the first two games, Travis has played exceptionally well on defense, and this week added seven more tackles and a sack, along with the blocked punt, to his season totals.

And while it seemed that the RedHawks would carry that momentum forward and perhaps put the game away early, that was not to be the case, because on the Miners’ third possession, they gave themselves a chance to tie, taking the ball inside the 10-yard line.
But Colusa’s defense stood tall, forcing Yreka to turn the ball over on downs, after newcomer William McCoy stopped the Miner running back dead in his tracks.

A junior transfer, McCoy was impressive in his debut for the RedHawks, finishing the game with 10 tackles and a sack.

Colusa’s Isaiah Travis reaches out to make a tackle in the RedHawks’ win over Yreka on September 2.

For the remainder of the half, though, the two offenses played to a stalemate, with neither team making many inroads, and thus ending with Colusa clinging to a narrow 7-0 advantage.

That situation would rapidly change, however, as the third period dawned and the RedHawks put together a seven play, three-minute drive, highlighted by a 45-yard pass from Bo Coronado to Nicko Matta, and completed it when Coronado, in turn, hit Niko Silvas with a short pass he carried into the end zone.

It was the beginning of a very productive quarter for Colusa, who capitalized on the Miners’ ensuing possession, when a broken play on a punt gave the RedHawks the ball just outside the red zone at the 24-yard line.

Two snaps later, Colusa added to its lead when Coronado found Travis in the corner of the end zone from seven yards away to make the score 21-0.

Just a sophomore, Coronado has managed the offense well thus far, and has been aided considerably by a talented group of receivers that have made big catches at critical junctures, and includes not only Travis, but the Humphrey brothers, Landon and Peyton, along with Aiden Selover.

However, with a comfortable lead, the RedHawks began to chew up the clock and to do so put the ball in the hands of their senior running back Hayden McCarty, who would find pay dirt from 22 yards out after Landon Humphrey made a clutch grab on a fourth downplay to extend the drive.

Ultimately, it was all the RedHawks needed. As the defense kept the Miners at bay, a Landon Humphrey interception extinguished any hope of Yreka breaking up the shutout.

Following the game, Coach Mikey Badaluco said that so far he has seen an improvement from his team over last season, which has resulted in them outscoring their first two opponents 80-14, and has the RedHawks off to a 2-0 start.

“We have definitely done a better job taking care of the ball this season,” Badaluco said. “Last year, we put the ball on the ground and killed some drives, but so far, we’ve not done that.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Colusa is also working on tightening up against the run, but got good production from McCarty, who tied with McCoy for the team high with 10 tackles, and Mata, who contributed nine tackles and a sack.

This Friday, Colusa puts its two game win streak on the line when Willows comes to town. ■

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