East County Sports

RedHawks get first win of season

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS Senior staff writer
SOUTH ENCANTO — Mountain Empire placekicker kicker Adan Rivera redeemed himself with a 21-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter lifting the RedHawks to their first victory of the season by nipping Mabel O’Farrell Charter, 9-7, at “The Falcons Nest” field, located just a half-mile west from Morse High.
Rivera, shanked a potential, game-tying PAT attempt in the final minute of the second quarter. However, with the verdict on the line, the senior was strong and true with his go-ahead boo, 21-yard to capture the contest between winless programs.
Mountain Empire (1-6 overall, 1-1 Pacific League) has now both won and lost a 2-point decision in league play, standing one-half game behind co-frontrunning The Rock and Maranatha Christan.
The Rock nipped Tri-City Christian, 28-27, while Maranatha captured last week’s league opener, 22-20, while
Speaking of close encounters, SD-Southwest defeated both Mountain Empire and O’Farrell this season, by near-identical scores of 20-7 and 22-7, which meant the RedHawks were supposed to win by two points — and they did.
The Hawks’ game-winning kick contrasted sharply with the schools’ first meeting when O’Farrell began its football program in 2018. The Falcons have been shut out all season, but a RedHawks fumble set in their own red zone -up a potential field goal after the Falcons were shut out in seven straight contests.
However, Mountain Empire blocked the short 24-yarder to preserve the shutout triumph.
This year’s deciding field goal was set up by RedHawks outside linebacker Christian Rose following his second fumble recovery of the game, allowing the defense to close out the victory with more than 40 unanswered minutes of shutout football.
“I kind of messed up on my PAT and I needed to calm down,” Rivera admitted. “But I We played hard and had a lot of faith in each other.”
Rivera noted how the “scrappy” defense kept the team in the game.
“They were breaking their backs for us,” he added.
There were many others to receive credit, too.
“We made some early mistakes, but the defense came on and won this one for us,” said head coach Bernard Vann. “When we play consistently like this afternoon, we can win in this league.”
There were plenty of stoppers on defense that received credit.
“There was my buddy, Phoenix (Tani), at linebacker, and a bunch of others,” said the defensive end, the contest’s leading tackler. “We really cleaned up our game. Our outside linebackers were contained, and our corners stepped up this week.”
The lone RedHawks touchdown came on a 2-yard plunge by sophomore Isaac Gonzalez, a running back who plays in the defensive secondary.
“Our defense has overcome some adversity after missed the kick — they were really standing tall,” said quarterback Corey Vann. “Hopefully, we can take this momentum to win the league, then into the playoffs.”
This was the opener of a 3-game road swing for the RedHawks. They will close the regular season with a Senior Night contest against The Rock on Sat., Oct. 21, with a special 5 p.m. kickoff.
The Warriors elevated from 8-man to 11-an football this season after capturing the Surf League in 2022.
O’Farrell (0-6, 0-1) now owns a composite margin of 1-41; the Falcons lost their first 18 straight, defeated La Habra Whittier Christian, (24-12 in 2021) and now have dropped 23 straight.


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