WOODLAND — A strong start for the Fairfield High football team quickly gave way to reality Friday night as the Falcons fell 41-18 in their season-opener to host Pioneer of Woodland.
The Falcons (0-1) got a jump on the Patriots and ran out to a 12-0 lead 4 minutes into the second quarter
Then the reality of suiting up just 19 players caught up with Fairfield as Pioneer ran off six straight touchdowns before the Falcons saw the end zone again.
“I know fatigue caught up with us,” said Fairfield associate head coach Adam Butler. “Adrenaline was pumping, they were good to go, they were out there battling there in the first quarter, but I knew eventually it was going to catch up with us. I thought they could hold off a little longer, but they never got that. We started having a bunch of injuries and they started dropping like flies.”
Before that, however, Fairfield’s Tyler Ross picked off Pioneer quarterback Seth Black at the Falcons 30, setting up the game’s first scoring drive.
Eight plays and 59 yards later, Fairfield quarterback Michael Arredondo — playing in his first high school game — connected with Eric Posey for a 26-yard touchdown strike for a 6-0 lead after a blocked extra point attempt.
Arredondo had a stellar night under center, finishing 19 for 32 for 230 yards with two interceptions.
“Michael Arredondo played exceptionally well,” Butler said. “Especially after we lost our starting lineman. We only dress six linemen. One dropped in the first series.”
The Falcons defense did it again, forcing the Patriots to turn the ball over on downs to keep it 6-0 into the second quarter.
With 8 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in the half, Arredondo hit Ross for a 12-yard TD pass, capping a 56-yard, nine-play drive.
That was, however, it for Fairfield until the fourth quarter as the Falcons ran out of gas on defense and Pioneer continued to pound the ball up the middle, sticking with the ground attack all night — the Patriots attempted just three passes.
Jason Whitfield delivered the first Pioneer score on a 10-yard rumble with 6:11 left in the half to get within 12-7.
A Fairfield fumble set up the next score, a 5-yard run by Juan Carlos Ramirez to take a 14-7 lead with 5:19 in the half.
Ramirez carried the ball 18 times for 147 yards.
It was Whitfield again with 2:12 to play in the half on a 7-yard rush for a 21-12 lead at the break.
“Pioneer was a pretty good team, I know they took advantage of our fatigue, especially running the ball,” Butler said.
Two more Pioneer TDs in the third quarter — the second a result of Arredondo’s second pick — made it 35-12 heading into the fourth.
Pioneer got its final touchdown with 8:03 left in the game.
Arredondo then engineered an 80-yard, eight-play drive that included a 51-yard bomb to Ross for a huge first down.
He capped it with an 18-yard strike to Vernon Brooks for the score and the final 41-18 margin.
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or [email protected] Follow him in Twitter at www.twitter.com/