Last November, the Colusa RedHawks went on the road and defeated the Mt. Shasta Bears in a defensive struggle to advance to the second round of the Northern Section Division IV playoffs, but the rematch played last Friday night in Colusa was the complete opposite as the RedHawks scored early and often to overpower the Bears and win their home opener in blowout fashion by a score of 61-28.
Yet despite the final score, the game was closer than it appeared, especially in the first half when the RedHawks failed to stop the Bears who scored on their first two drives.
However while Colusa’s defense had a bit of a shaky start, the offense was firing on all cylinders scoring touchdowns in their initial six possessions.
Senior running back Manny Morales got things started for the RedHawks answering the Bears’ score with one of his own, after racing 22 yards for the RedHawks’ first touchdown of the season at the 5:33 mark in the first quarter.
Just four minutes later Morales responded again, this time with a 60-yard burst to out run the Bear defense and tie the score at 14 with just over 90 seconds left in the opening period.
Morales had an impressive outing showing both speed and power to finish the night with a career high 10 carries for 155 yards.
Nevertheless, as the second quarter dawned, the RedHawks continued to roll needing just six plays to take the lead as quarterback Riley Stice punched the ball in from four yards out setting the score at 21-14.
After two big plays the RedHawk defense, a break up of a sideline pass by Victor Hernandez and a sack by
Xavier Lopez, the Bears turned the ball over on downs near mid-field where the Colusa offense then unveiled an incredibly efficient passing game.
In the final four minutes of the second quarter Stice would connect with the 6-foot-2 Hernandez for three touchdowns of 38, 35 and 40 yards respectively with the last one coming in response to the Bears’ 85 kickoff return.
It was final pass completion for a touchdown that ultimately broke the Bears’ back and prompted Colusa coach Matt Jessee to praise his senior quarterback.
“Riley’s been a leader and motivated since our loss to Durham last season. He’s doing the little things right and when that happens, the big things take care of themselves,” Jessee said.
Stice performed well in his first outing under center completing five of his six passes all to Hernandez, who in his varsity debut had 140 yards receiving to go along with the hat trick.
Yet with the score now 41-22, the RedHawks’ weren’t done, as junior defensive back Edgar Garcia intercepted a pass, and after eluding multiple would be tacklers took it back 60 yards for the RedHawks’ seventh touchdown of the first half making the score 48-22.
In addition to the interception return, Garcia also had a big night on offense carrying six times for 80 yards and handling the kicking duties as well.
As the RedHawks turned to the run game to chew up clock in the second half, the undermanned Bears, with just 16 on the roster, struggled to contain them.
As a result, Colusa would find the end zone twice more in the fourth quarter when back up quarterback Drew Bradbury bulled his way in from four yards away before a Nick Price 27 yard run capped the scoring.
Jessee, while obviously pleased with the RedHawks nearly 500 yards of offense, felt that although his team made a key adjustment in the first quarter to slow down the Bears, the defense could have been a tighter and specifically addressed the issue of sloppy tackling which plagued Colusa throughout the game.
“Sometimes in the first real live action of the season, you lose your technique. It is something we definitely will hit hard in practice this week,” said the second year head coach.
Still the RedHawks did hold Mt Shasta to just 22 points and got solid efforts from Hernandez who led the team in tackles with nine, along with Anthony Berry and Cody Free who tallied eight a piece.
Colusa (1-0) now readies itself for the long drive to Weaverville on Friday where they meet Trinity (0-1), who was shutout last week by Central Valley.