Red Mountain takes down Desert Ridge in their opening game of 2018

It’s that time of year for high school football players. It’s Friday Night Lights season. The Red Mountain football team comes into this season with goals of winning in November. That means competing for a Arizona State Football Championship for the Mountain Lions.

Standing in their way on Friday night were the Desert Ridge Jaguars. Red Mountain and Desert Ridge have a rivalry that has been going on for some time now. This game had a little more extra meaning for both teams, but for different reasons. Red Mountain hadn’t won an opening season game since 2012, so the coaches and players were putting forth the effort in practice to end this streak of opening game losses. The opportunity to beat a rival was also paramount for the Mountain Lions.

Those in attendance could feel the nerves of the players. The fans, coaches, and players could also see that nervousness with the amount of penalties that were being called on both teams.

Desert Ridge came into this game with a solid running attack led by Lucas Wright. Wright finished the game with 125 yards on the ground, but the rest of the Jaguar offense could not help out Lucas Wright. The Jaguar quarterback, Cooper Schmidt, was not very sharp. Schmidt threw for less than 100 yards.

The Jaguars started the game not being able to muster much. The opening drive was a mix of penalties, and few positive plays, and then turning the ball over on downs to the Mountain Lions. Red Mountain stopped the Jags on a short fourth down and that set the tone for the Mountain Lion defense.

Red Mountain came into the game determined to stop this Desert Ridge running attack. With defensive end Francis Kumi and defensive lineman Anthony Giraldi controlling things up front, the Jaguars really became a one dimensional team. The senior laden defense took care of business from there.

The offense for Red Mountain drew first blood by taking a 3-0 lead on a 33 yard field goal with 3:32 left in the first quarter. Coach Peterson had to be happy with getting some points on the opening drive considering the penalties that the Mountain Lions had.

Opening game butterflies were playing a role early in this game. Whatever team kept the jitters to a minimum was going to win this game.

As the first half crept towards halftime most people probably figured it would be 3-0 game at half.

Nope.

Red Mountain quarterback, Darren Smith, connected on a 77 yard bomb on what appeared to be a broken play. This play gave all the momentum to the Mountain Lions heading to the half.

“Keep your heads up! This game isn’t over yet!” yelled Jaguar players as they made their way to the locker room.

Desert Ridge was right. The game was far from over.

However, that momentum the Mountain Lions got right before half carried over to the third quarter.

A 25 yard touchdown run by Ty McElroy in the third quarter made the score 17-0 and now Desert Ridge was really behind the eight ball. McElroy finished the game with 104 yards rushing.

The passing game for the Jaguars just wasn’t there on Friday night. Every time they tried to pass, a Red Mountain defender was right there to make sure the pass wasn’t going to be completed. If the pass was completed, it didn’t go for much of a gain.

There was blood in the water and the Mountain Lions smelled it.

Once Red Mountain quarterback Darren Smith threw a touchdown pass to Kalim Reece-Peeplez to make the score 24-0 the game was over. The fat lady was beginning to warm-up.

Desert Ridge did manage to score with 18.4 seconds left to make the pain of losing not as bad.

In the end, this was a game that Red Mountain went out and took from the Jaguars. Coach Peterson was happy to start the season with a win.

“It’s something great to build on. I mean, you’re not battling back from a loss the whole rest of the week. You’re trying to make improvements from game one to game two.” Coach Peterson said.

The Mountain Lions go on the road for the next three games, but the team is willing to bask in the glow of a great opening week victory over one of their rivals.

 

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