San Tan Youth Football League Eagles

San Tan Youth Football League Eagles header image 2

Oh so close, Eagles Drop Heart-Breaker to Diablos in Opener

September 15th, 2008 · No Comments

You could feel it in the crisp early morning air as the Mighty Might Eagles took the field early Saturday morning for the season opener against the Diablos. Albeit a biased perspective, both teams look to have a great chance at this year’s league championship… at least on paper.

During the initial scrimmages last week, the Diablos executed two passing plays getting behind the Eagles secondary for quick scores. The Eagles worked on this in preparing to face the Diablos this weekend and the practice paid off as the Diablos found it much more difficult to connect through the air in the opener.

The first half started with the Eagles kicking off to the Diablos. From there, the Eagles vaunted defense took the field to chants of “E-A-G-L-E-S… EAGLES”! The boys in black and green didn’t disappoint as they shut down the Diablos offense and forced a turnover on downs.

To their credit, the Diablos returned the favor keeping the Eagles explosive running game in check for the first two quarters. The majority of the first two quarters that is…

After a great stand by the Eagles starting defense that thwarted yet another Diablo drive toward the end of the first half, the Eagles retained possession of the ball with under two minutes to play in the half. After netting a few first downs deep in their own territory, Coach Gene called a sweep to Dakota Neer to the far sideline. Tony Saba provided a crushing crack-back block that sprung the fleet-footed Neer around the edge. From there, he was off to the races.

Dakota dug deep and ran hard down the sideline with several Diablos in pursuit. A Diablo defender lunged in desperation at the ten yard line and got just enough of Dakota to throw him off balance and down at the five yard line. With less then 10 seconds remaining in the half, the Eagles promptly called their final time out of the stanza. The Eagles called on Mr. Saba to punch it in, but the Diablos called an inside blitz that thwarted the Eagles bid to take the lead just before halftime. The half ended in a 0-0 tie.

The Eagles knew they were in a dog fight, but seemed confident in their ability to overcome their competition at half time. We were dominating on defense and Coach Gene and the offense were starting to develop rhythm toward the end of the first half. As an observer, you sensed that the momentum was in the Eagles favor.

The Eagles received the second half kickoff and opened on offense. To their credit, the Diablos came out fired up and were ready to take on whatever the Eagles threw at them. Much like the first half, the third quarter was very much a defensive struggle.

The Diablos had the ball heading into the fourth quarter and we’re gradually gaining a field possession advantage over the Eagles as the teams exchanged possessions. In fact, at one point in the fourth period, the Diablos had the ball first and goal and threatened to take the first lead of the game. The Diablos pounded the ball at the Eagles to set up a 4th and goal situation from the one yard line.

In a somewhat controversial call, the Eagles stuffed the Diablos just at the goal line to regain possession on an inspired play by the defense. The play was controversial in that one referee signaled touchdown while the other called the play dead as the ball carrier’s knee had touched the turf prior to his lunge forward that broke the plane of the endzone. It was difficult to tell from the Eagles sideline, but it certainly appeared that the runner had slipped and his knee hit the turf prior to lunging forward. Either way, Birds ball with time running short.

The Eagles were able to get their backs off the wall and gained a couple of first downs, but ultimately the Diablos regained possession with about a minute left in regulation. The Eagles were thinking, we just need to dial up another defensive stop and force overtime. It sure looked like we were heading to overtime when the Diablos called a reverse play on 3rd and long from the 25 yard line. Most of the Eagles bit on the fake and the remaining Eagle defenders were out of position to make the play as the Diablos took the lead with under 30 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Eagles were able to run one last play from scrimmage, but were unable to break free for a tying score as the final whistle blew, signaling the end of the epic opener.

You’ve got to hand it to both teams as they looked well coached and talented on both sides of the ball. The Diablos are a tough team and a classy bunch both on and off the field. I have a feeling these two teams will meet again in the post season.

Tags: Football

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment