CALIPATRIA — New week, same result. That's the biggest takeaway of many Hornet faithfuls, as they lose their second consecutive game of the 2019 campaign. The Calipatria Hornets were defeated by the visiting Palo Verde Valley Yellowjackets 48-7.
The Hornets lost tonight in pretty much the same manner they lost in week one, only this time, the Hornets showed fight well into the second quarter, keeping themselves at arm's length throughout the first half.
The Hornets, however, could not sustain drives offensively. The end result: an exhausted defense that allowed two back-breaking scores to end the half, sending the Hornets to the locker room down 28-7.
Calipatria athletic director and defensive coordinator Joshua Wise says progress is being made within the program and that the kids shouldn't lose faith in the process.
"The main problem were having this season is a lack of a weight room program," said Wise. "We've only had these kids for less than three weeks. We just don't have the endurance to compete late in games."
The Hornets are in the middle of a major regime change. Former head coach Mike Swearingen resigned suddenly less than a week before the season opener, leaving Hornet nation in a state of flux. After an extensive search, Calipatria's administration decided to promote JV head coach Keith Smith to lead the varsity.
The Hornets tried to mount a comeback in the third quarter, but the injury bug stung many of Calipatria's key players. Quarterback Kalin Sotelo was forced to throw the ball downfield with limited protection and threw a season-high four interceptions.
Calipatria senior wide receiver Hugo Cervantes says that while this isn't the most ideal of starts, he believes his squad has the capability to turn it around.
"We played really well early on," said Cervantes. "We knew [Palo Verde] only ran about six plays. We were trying to respect their passing game, but the majority of their scores came out of their running game from the power formation and we really didn't have much of an answer once we were down."
This game was a rematch of last season's CIF-SDS Division V first-round playoff, in which the Calipatria Hornets came up victorious 28-3 in Palo Verde.
It would take Palo Verde Valley some time before they could break away from this game. But with smart decision-making by senior quarterback Chase Schriner, who ended the game four of seven with 100 yards passing, three touchdowns and only one interception, the Yellowjackets pulled away from the depleted Calipatria squad.
The Yellowjackets relied heavily on their ground game, rushing for 340 yards in the game. Freshman running back Xavier Gonzales-Pinon carried most of the load for the Jackets, rushing for 155 yards on 17 carries and two touchdown scores.
Senior cornerback/tight end Tommy Johnson also contributed both ways, snatching two interceptions defensively leading to Palo Verde scores and reeling in a 34-yard touchdown grab, his only reception of the game. He said the game meant more than just another win.
"They planned to beat us again since they beat us last year," said Johnson. "We came, we imposed our will, and we broke their hearts."
Calipatria (0-2) will now travel for the first time when they take on the Yuma Criminals this Friday, September 6. Palo Verde Valley (1-1) will have their bye week coming up before returning home to face Desert Mirage September 13 in Blythe.