Jr. Warrior Midgets lose in ISAC playoffs

The Dr. Sellers football field will remain empty as the school districts halts organized athletic conditioning practices. Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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On Saturday, Nov. 12, the Winters Jr. Warriors Midgets lost in the first round of the Independent Sports Alliance of California (ISAC) playoffs against the undefeated Woodland Christian Jr. Cardinals by a score of 26–0.

While this score may seem devastating, Winters held Woodland Christian to a season-low.

“In both games against them, (we) were the only team in the league that did not get mercy ruled (33 point differential) by them,” said Jr. Warriors Midgets head coach Rudy Baylor.

In the second quarter, quarterback Aidan Baylor threw a deflected ball into the arms of a Woodland Christian defender who was able to return it for the first touchdown of the game. A turnover on downs a short time later gave Woodland Christian a 13–0 lead going into halftime.

“After the first half of the game, our 16-man roster, compared to the 35 they had, just got tired and had a hard time staying fresh and energized,” said coach Baylor.

The Jr. Warriors defense only allowed Woodland Christian to gain about 30 total yards in the entire first half making them the toughest competitors that Woodland Christian has had to face all season.

Jackson Holbein, Aidan Baylor, Joe Hawkins and Luis Silva played an excellent game and worked hard to shut down Woodland Christians’ passing attempts.

“The Woodland Christian coach mentioned that our nose guard Anthony Garcia may be the best he has ever seen at this level,” said coach Baylor.

The Jr. Warriors offense made some great plays and was headed into the endzone when a penalty was called on our sideline for bumping into one of the refs. The 15-yard penalty was a momentum killer the boys could not recover from. The Jr. Warriors were doing everything they could to close the gap with different formations and plays, trick plays, reverses, and pitch passes but ultimately nothing worked.

As good as the Jr. Warriors’ defense was, their opponents’ defense was better.

“I’m proud of the way this team fought all season. We played two of the toughest teams (in) the first two weeks of the season and got demolished. We also lost our starting running back and linebacker to an injury and I was really worried, but these boys never quit and got better and better every week after that finishing the season 6–3,” said coach Baylor.

The Jr. Warrior Midgets have grown throughout the season and have five players, who had never played football before. After losing EJ Cruz in game two of the season with a broken elbow, Mark Gano stepped up as running back, which he had never played before.

“I’m proud of how Mark stepped in, his confidence grew with every carry throughout the season. He literally went from a nervous shy running back, to an absolute beast with the ball in his hands. I really can’t wait to see what he does going forward into high school next year,” said coach Baylor.

Coach Baylor said he couldn’t have asked for a better season.

“The fight these boys have in them is awesome. The motivators I had in my coaching staff with Brady Holbein, Art Garcia, Josh Rogers, Doug Charter and Marcus Chavez was huge for these kids,” said coach Baylor. “My high school mentors Jake Woods and Ashton Baylor were also role models and helped with coaching and really gave these boys something to look forward to. This program has been a huge part of my family for 16 years now, and I am very happy with this team being my last Jr. Warrior team.”

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