Cal Ewanich dashed 80 yards on a kickoff return midway through the fourth quarter, right after Antioch had pulled within one point, as Amador Valley held off the Panthers 30-22 in a back-and-forth season-opening contest.
It was the second kickoff return of the night for the Dons, which also got a 95-yard dash to the end zone by Eric Hunter III, whose big night also included a pair of interceptions, one in the end zone to thwart a Panther scoring opportunity.
“Hunter did it all for us. The kid plays hard, and I can’t say enough about him and his love for the game. He is fun to coach,” said Amador Valley coach Danny Jones. “Then Cal (Ewanich) really came in clutch for us when we needed it. Our backs were really pinned at that point and we needed someone to make a play. He always seems to rise to the occasion when the game is on the line. He is totally the big-time player who makes big plays in big-time games, and he has been doing it for three years at the varsity level.”
The late kickoff return became necessary after Antioch wiped out what had once been a 23-6 Amador Valley lead. Senior quarterback Kannon Dote connected with Josh Heverly on a 19-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but the Panthers rallied when Cameron Wright scored on a one-yard run, followed by a Dejuan Butler two-point conversion to cut the lead to nine points, and Antioch junior quarterback Rocco Borrelli then connected with Shamar Lemmon for the second time in the game, followed again by a Butler two-point conversion run to make it a one-point game, this time on a play which saw him go from sideline-to-sideline before reaching the end zone.
Aside from the two kickoff returns and Dote’s scoring pass to Heverly, Amador Valley also scored on defense in the first half, when Jackson Luck sacked Borrelli for a safety and a 9-6 lead at the time.
“This was a great team win,” Jones added. “We had so many guys contribute because we had tons of first-game woes. We had guys cramping, and there is nothing you can do to simulate game conditioning. We really had to dig down deep into our depth, and tons of guys stepped up.”
Berkeley ends skid in first game under Hodgins
Donte Searcy’s 17-yard touchdown run, set up a 55-yard pass from Miekai Finnie to Ari Libenson, lifted Berkeley past Redwood on Friday night, 27-21. It was the Yellowjackets’ first win after a winless 2018 campaign, in its first game under former Berean Christian head coach James Hodgins.
“I could not be prouder as the coach of these guys,” Hodgins said. “These guys are the real deal and now that they believe, watch out.”
Berkeley trailed 13-0 at halftime, but Searcy cut the deficit to six with his touchdown run early in the third quarter, and a short touchdown pass from Finnie to Libenson put the Yellowjackets temporarily in front, 14-13. Redwood regained the lead, but Finnie then connected with Dwayne McDougal for a 55-yard touchdown reception to tie the game at 21.
“I don’t know if we could have played a worse half of football in the first two quarters, but the guys responded in the second half. We stopped worrying about the scoreboard and just started playing good, fundamentally sound football,” Hodgins said. “We made big plays in all three phases of the game, and never took our foot off the gas pedal until it was over.”
Concord blanks Dougherty Valley
Quarterback Ryan Murphy scored twice on the ground, on runs of 35 and 15 yards, and the Concord defense took care of business in a 14-0 win over Dougherty Valley.
“Our defense really played fantastic, responded really well to adversity early on,” said Concord coach Paul Reynaud. “It was a great team effort from everyone, and we played with a lot of intensity and passion.”
The Minutemen will look for a 2-0 start next week against Arroyo.
Kennedy turns back Stellar Prep
Camron Young lined up all over the field for Kennedy-Richmond on Friday night, scoring once on a reception from Bobby Williams and again on a punt return to lead the Eagles past Stellar Prep, 27-14.
“Stellar Prep is a physical team, but Camron was outstanding for us, and played at least six different positions in the game. He is a baller,” said Kennedy coach Greg Marshall.
Ben Freeman also scored on a fumble return for Kennedy, while Kari Glover scored twice on the ground for Stellar Prep, including a 50-yard dash. Timmi Cook rounded out the scoring for Kennedy.