There’s a saying around the Coronado Islanders football team this season, it improves 1% every day. Well, last Friday night against the Sweetwater High School Red Devils, the Islanders football team looked not only to improve 1%, but also to get a better win to improve to 2-0 on the season.
The Islanders’ opponent, Sweetwater High School, presented a unique and difficult challenge by running the rarely used triple option offense. For some San Diego County teams, seeing the triple option can make them nervous, as it just became an outdated and rarely used offensive scheme.
But not for the islanders. Having faced the Sweetwater team twice last season and beating them both times, the Islanders seemed to have the upper hand.
In the first half, and really throughout the game on Friday night, the Islanders’ defense was in control. In the first quarter alone, the Islanders would force two turnovers: a strip and recovery for Steve Davis and a muffled click retrieved by Wild Saxton. Both Davis and Sylvester were off Friday, each producing six tackles and 1 TFL.
Along with the first two turnovers, the Islander’s defense would also keep Sweetwater under the first five downs in the first half; thanks again for your dominance in your forward seven. Some other notable performances came from Elijah Valdiviawho recorded two sacks on the night with eight tackles, and jonathan rotherham Y Jordan Mendozawho scored more than five tackles.
“Our defensive line took a big step forward,” Islander head coach Kurt Hines said. “Sweetwater came out looking very different than what we saw on tape, and our defense did a great job of tightening up and plugging as many holes as possible. They did a phenomenal job all night.”
While the defense played light outs, it was up to the Islander’s offense to put some points on the board. But on Friday night that was a tall order. Coronado didn’t score in the first, and while they could move the ball at times, they couldn’t put together a complete drive.
The closest the Islanders came to the end zone in the first half was on a third-and-10 play from the Sweetwater 28-yard line.
Graham Bower tried to connect with Logan Eastlick, who got beat up by her man, on a corner route. But the pass was just beyond Eastlick’s reach at the 3-yard line and he fell incomplete to keep the game 0-0 at the half.
“Offensively, it all starts with our blocking,” Hines said. “And right now the lockdown is not where it needs to be. We need to do a better job of keeping our blocks and taking the right steps. If we can improve that, the offense as a whole will improve.”
Coming off the half, Coronado had another chance to put points on the scoreboard. After another fumble recovered by the Islander’s defense, Coronado settled into midfield.
To start the drive, RB Valdivia broke off a 20-yard run that was quickly followed by a long pass play from Bower to connor little, placing them within the red zone. But again, the advance would stop and result in 0 points keeping things tied at 0-0.
In fact, the game would remain scoreless well into the fourth quarter. But with just under 7 minutes to pay, we got our first points. After another 3 forced and eliminated by the Coronado defense, Sweetwater would line up to punt. However, the Islanders would break through, block the punt, and set up the offense at the Sweetwater 5-yard line.
Just one play later, Bower would call his own number and race into the end zone to give the Islanders a 7-0 lead with four minutes left.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Sweetwater responded with a resounding drive of her own and scored to make it 7-6 with 46 seconds left. The Red Devils went for two and were denied thanks to what, at the time, appeared to be a game-sealing tackle made in the open field by Little.
However, on the ensuing kickoff, Sweetwater lined up for an onside kick and, after a few malicious rebounds, recovered with 40 seconds left. And on a 3rd-and-3 with 15 seconds left, Sweetwater hit his only completion of the night on a perfectly executed lofted route down the near sideline.
“Our safety and our corner were in a great position to make a play,” Hines said. “It was a perfect pass that is almost impossible to defend.”
The big pass and catch would set up what would turn out to be the game-winning FG to give Sweetwater the 9-7 win and take the Islanders to 1-1 in the young season.
The Islanders will look to bounce back when they face Santana this Friday, September 2 at 7:00 pm at Santana High School.
“Santana loves to put the house on the defensive,” Hines said. “They bring in six guys at times, so we’re really going to need to work on our combination blocking and short passing game. We’re not going to have that time sitting in the pocket and letting plays unfold. We will have to be fast and efficient in attack”.