FAIRFIELD — There’s always next week.
That’s what the Vanden, Rodriguez and Armijo high school football teams must have told themselves after difficult losses last week.
The Vikings and Mustangs had their games decided late, the winning points scored in overtime and the fourth quarter, respectively.
Armijo, meanwhile, stared at a big deficit all night, falling behind big early and failing to score for the third straight game.
What positives can be taken from such defeats? Let’s take a look.
In its 28-27 overtime loss to Wood, Vanden won all three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams. Just not on the scoreboard, where is counts.
It outgained Wood 259-123 and recovered its first two kickoffs – one on a fumble, the other on a pooch kick – turning them into touchdowns.
The Vikings, who host Napa on Friday, lost the mental game, however. They suffered numerous dropped passes, several of which contributed to them going just 2 of 14 on third-down conversions.
They were also penalized a stunning 17 times for 145 yards, many of the flags thrown for simply lining up offsides on defense, even after the side judge yelled “Look for the ball!”
“You can’t do that and win ballgames,” Vanden coach LeVon Haynes said. “You can’t beat a Pop Warner team.”
Penalties were also costly to Rodriguez in its 12-10 loss to Fairfield. The Mustangs were flagged eight times for 84 yards, but other mistakes, especially involving special teams, proved the difference.
Eddy Nuno booted a school-record 42-yard field goal in the first quarter, but with the Mustangs facing a fourth-and-8 from the Fairfield 17, they elected to go for it.
The play lost 4 yards and the Falcons then drove 79 yards for their first touchdown of the game.
Then with Rodriguez clinging to a 10-6 lead in the fourth quarter, its punter apparently thought he heard the code word for a fake punt and tried to run it – on fourth-and-15 from the Mustangs’ 39.
The play lost 6 yards and the Falcons scored the eventual winning touchdown eight plays later.
The winning drive was kept alive by Rodriguez allowing Fairfield to gain 26 yards on a screen pass when facing a third-and-20 for the Mustangs’ 32-yard line.
“Their guys played hard, our guys played hard,” Rodriguez coach Berwyn Hutcherson said. “It came down to who made the most mistakes. We made the most.”
On the positive side, Rodriguez rushed for 188 yards, 100 by D’Andre Scott, after running for 26 yards combined the first two weeks.
The Mustangs, who host Oakland on Friday, also haven’t opened their passing game, targeting standout wide receiver Arron Short just a few times. He didn’t catch a pass until the third quarter and had just two receptions for 8 yards on the night.
Nearly everything’s been short, one reason they were just 2 of 10 on third down.
Armijo, meanwhile, just wants to get into the end zone. It doesn’t matter how.
Their scoring drought to start the season – being shut out three straight times, including 49-0 by Benicia last week – has reached historical proportions, the longest ever to start the season for the Indians and tying the record for longest overall.
Coach Karl Finley isn’t giving up hoping, insisting “we’re close” and that a few tackles and catches “here and there” will make a difference.
On the bright side, the Indians rushed for a season-high 147 yards and ran a season-high 53 plays. The key to their success, in scoring as well as winning, is being able to run and control the ball.
They get another crack at it when the play at Antelope on Friday.
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.