The Warriors took on Clear Lake High School in a non-conference away game on Friday, Sept. 17. The varsity took a hard hit when a key player was injured. They ended up losing to the Cardinals 21–13.
The biggest obstacle the Warriors faced was the loss of one of their star players, Connor Ray, after he suffered an injury during the second play of the game.
“My heart goes out to Connor. He was the heart and soul of our football team, and he is one of the smartest football players I have ever coached and was having a great senior season,” said varsity head coach Daniel Ward.
Losing Ray set the Warriors back, and while Winters fought to stay in the game, at the end of the day, Clear Lake was more aggressive and the Warriors were outplayed.
“We are really struggling up front and need to get better on both sides of the ball,” said Ward.
Matt Moore, Memo Valadez and Justice Madsen once again led the Warriors offensively. Moore threw two touchdown passes to Valadez, who was also the leader in rushing yards in Friday night’s game by running 186 yards. Madsen was another instrumental offensive player, earning 100 rushing yards and getting the Warriors in a better position to score. Unfortunately, the Warriors struggled crossing over the line of scrimmage and were unable to capitalize on their first downs.
While the Warriors defensive team is extremely talented, they need to focus on shutting down the long passes. All three of the Cardinal’s touchdowns were off long passes in or close to the end zone. The Warriors just weren’t able to get to the opposing quarterback, and the defensive backs were quick in covering Clear Lakes wide receivers to deflect the passes that came down the field.
“We are too good and too experienced back there to keep giving up plays through the air,” said Ward.
The Warriors didn’t play their best defensive game Friday night, however that didn’t stop Madsen and Grayson Roberts from putting in the effort and working hard to prevent Clear Lake from pulling too far ahead. Madsen led with eight tackles, followed closely by Roberts who made seven. Logan Spears and Javier Bermudez were also consistent in marking up their opponents and making tackles at critical moments in the game.
While the outcome isn’t what the Warriors had hoped for, Ward is optimistic that this loss will be beneficial for the team going into league games this week.
“I’m a firm believer that you learn more from failure than you do from successes,” said Ward.
The Winters junior varsity football team won their away non-conference game against Clear Lake by a score of 40-6.
This group of players are proving themselves to be the team to beat this year. The junior varsity football team have been focusing their efforts on the field and everyone is beginning to realize just how good they really are.
“We are improving slowly but gradually and working on developing the skills of our more inexperienced players and second string,” said junior varsity head coach Chris Kays.
Assistant coach Rudy Baylor also commented on how impressed he was with the second string players. At one point in the game Winters threw in a whole new offensive line and still dominated against their competitors.
“When you have backups that people don’t realize are the backups, that’s something special. There is a lot of talent on this team. I’m happy to be a part of it,” said Rudy.
In addition to the development of second string players, the Warriors are also excelling in their game play. Sebastian Valadez, a freshman and former Jr. Warrior has used the skills he has learned to become one of the leading receivers of the Warriors defense core. During the game on Friday night, Sebastian had a big break away run, scoring a touchdown for the Warriors.
Ashton Baylor, Isaiah Pazmino, and Moto Reyes also all played great offensive games with long runs and touchdowns putting points on the board for the Warriors. Baylor also stepped in as quarterback during the second half of the game and performed extremely well.
While Baylor, Sebastian, Pazmino, Reyes and Gio Jimenez are often seen carrying the ball the Warriors starting linemen also deserve credit for every point that is scored. Cameron Higgins, Nathan Figueroa, Victor Diaz, Julian Herrera and Robert Magentti have been instrumental players in stopping the opposing defense and allowing the Warriors to run the plays necessary to get into the end zone.
“They have been pounding teams into the ground and never letting off the gas,” said Rudy.
Jesse Madsen also did very well on Friday night with his stalk blocking, which allowed for another Warrior touchdown. The whole offensive line for the Warriors does a great job operating as a cohesive unit as opposed to playing individual games. There is definitely something to be said about a team that can run plays up the middle of the field and still manage to gain positive yardage while breaking through strong blocks.
Similar to the Warriors offense, the Warriors defense once again played a dominant game, making hard hits and swarming that ball. While the whole defensive team performed very well it was Derrick Olson and Joel Barrera who stood out on the interior defensive line.
“Over the past two games they have really stepped up as reliable defensive players. They understand how to jump the snap and get in the back field almost as the ball is being handed off,” said Kays.
Winters will play again this Friday night with a home field advantage. The junior varsity game will begin at 5:30 p.m. and varsity will follow at 7:30 p.m.