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RedHawks stun Panthers 45-13
Jose Santana led the Colusa High football team to its first victory of the season on Friday night, a 45-13 romp against rival Maxwell in his first start at quarterback after taking over for an injured Kyle Cervantes.
The junior quarterback started out the season buried on the depth chart, but quickly rose from the scout team to a starting role this week.
"We thought he had potential and when we ran him in scout a little bit he started really shining, so I said OK we're going to try this guy out," Colusa coach Paul Theriault said.
All Santana did was complete 3-of-5 passes for 136 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while helping the RedHawks snap a two-game losing streak against their dangerous rivals. The victory was Colusa's first win of the season and second win in the last three years.
"(Santana) really committed himself. He's been coming in at 7 a.m. to meet me an hour before school every day, getting the extra work in and he's anxious to work more. He's a real blessing for this team right now," Theriault said.
Santana connected with Estavan Frias for a 59-yard touchdown and found R.J. Phillips on a 65-yards pass which set up a score.
The RedHawks offense was even more explosive on the ground, as Maxwell was unable to stop the Cerberus (mythical three-headed beast) in the RedHawks backfield.
The three-headed rushing attack of senior Andrew Rodriguez (17 carries for 225 yards and two touchdowns), senior Connor Herrick (14 for 102, touchdown) and junior Ryan Abele (12 for 68, touchdown) combined for 395 yards and four touchdowns.
"These guys ran really hard and the blocking was pretty good too. We can have the best backs in the county but it wouldn't matter if we didn't have these guys blocking for them," Theriault said.
Senior lineman Kevin Buenrostro was equally relieved and excited by the team's performance.
A poor second half showing in the season opener against Durham brought back memories of the team's struggles the past two seasons, but there would be no such letdown this week.
"This is the biggest game of my football career so far because it's my senior year and I'm never going to play these guys again, we're not going to see them in the playoffs," Buenrostro said.
Colusa jumped out to a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and led 35-13 at half. The team's conditioning program and renewed motivation helped them overcome the lack of winning experience late in games, he said.
"You know the rivalry, there's been a lot of talking. Saying we wasted our summer and we worked in vain but we showed them today. It feels really good," Buenrostro said.
The RedHawks finished with 567 total yards and the defense was just as impressive, holding an explosive Panthers' offense to 387 yards and 13 points.
Frias set the tone early, picking off a pass to end Maxwell's first drive of the game, and senior linebacker Lane Cervantes led the defense with two interceptions and a forced fumble.
"We've lost to them twice in the last two years so it's nice to beat them, especially our senior year," Cervantes said.
The secondary collected turnovers, but it was the defensive line that made the difference, according to Maxwell coach Robert Wilson.
Abele, Herrick and Tanner Rugieri combined to sack Maxwell quarterback George Barajas three times and sent him scrambling on countless snaps.
"They put some of their quick guys down on the defensive line and our guys weren't used to seeing small quick guys there. I think that might have played a factor," Wilson said.
Colusa blitzed and put constant pressure on Barajas, who was hit on almost every play, but Barajas completed 11 of 25 passes for 233 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions, and ran for another 66 yards.
"It made a big difference. We did a better job picking up the blitz, and calling plays better to beat the blitz, in the second half," Wilson said.
The Panthers were able to pick up big chunks of yards after Wilson began calling bubble screens and quick passes to the flat, but it was too little too late, he said.
Santiago Gonzalez led the Panthers with three catches for 112 yards and a touchdown, Bryce Perry added five catches for 68 yards. Blake Vierra rushed for 40 yards and a touchdown and had two catches for 39 yards. Eddie Rangel rushed eight times for 49 yards.
The RedHawks (1-1) host University Prep (1-2) on Friday. The Panthers (1-2) have a week off before traveling up to Fall River (0-2) on Sept. 21.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or email@example.com.