East County Sports

RedHawks specialize in shutout victories

2021 EAST COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL

MOUNTAIN EMPIRE 27, CALIPATRIA

 

EastCountySports.com staff report

 

PINE VALLEY – The Mountain Empire RedHawks have four victories this season and all of them have come by shutout.

The RedHawks recorded a second-consecutive whitewash in a 27-0 Desert League victory over Calipatria on Friday night.

Mountain Empire (4-4, 1-1 Desert) shut out Tri-City Christian, 20-0, on Oct. 8 in a non-league game.

The RedHawks also have shutout wins over Maranatha Christian, back in the season opener, and Hoover.

Mountain Empire, which has been playing football for 95 years, has had four shutouts in a season on three other occasions, most recently under current head coach Bernard Vann back in 2018.

The RedHawk clubs of 2000, under Jim Jones, and 1975, under Bill Prince, also had four blankings in one season.

However, it was the Mountain Empire varsity club of 1971 that recorded five shutouts in one campaign, including four-straight to open the season, en route to an 8-1 mark.

That 1971 RedHawk team, under Henry Braghetta had allowed just 18 points in their first eight games before falling in the Southern Mountain League championship game to Julian, 26-18, in the season finale. Defensive tackle Keith Richardson was the leader on that side of the ball.

In the win over the Hornets, the ‘Hawks were effective, if not spectacular.

Mountain Empire just ground out what it needed. And scored four rushing touchdowns in the process.

Senior Cody Whitehead reached the end zone twice for MEHS, rushing for 60 yards on six carries, which included the two scores.

“I knew this was an important game,” Whitehead said. “I just focused on what I had to do.”

Senior Larry Clark had a team-high 78 yards for the RedHawks and also rushed for a touchdown.

Senior Nakai Lindholm had the other Mountain Empire touchdown run.

“I think this win was a must,” said RedHawk sophomore Mannix Gonzalez, who rushed for 34 yards. “We had it in our heads that we were going to come out and put points on the board. Our running game couldn’t have been better and our line performed perfectly.”

Clark had nine tackles, including two for loss.

Junior Landon Laskey had seven tackles, including three for loss for MEHS.

Both Clark and Laskey forced fumbles, as well.

The RedHawks will travel for a Desert League road game with rival Holtville at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, and before returning home for a matchup with league-leading Palo Verde Valley at 7 p.m. on Oct. 29.

Mountain Empire is holding on for a playoff berth currently, as it is in 11th in the San Diego CIF Division V power rankings.

A win over either of their next two opponents will certainly boost the ‘Hawks into a playoff berth, otherwise, their fate will come down to the math of the section’s point system.

Holtville already defeated Mountain Empire in a Week 2 non-league game by a 22-14 score in Pine Valley.

Calipatria (2-6, 0-3 Desert) will face Holtville in the final week of the season.

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