Warriors Bounced out of District Tournament

Ayden Gutierrez, Author

Richland- The Warriors knew that if they could somehow pull off the upset on Friday night, they would be a favorite to win the District. They also knew that if they lost, their season was over. Unfortunately for the Warriors, the task was too big to handle, as Richland defeated West Branch 61-7 in the first round of the District 6 Class AA Tournament.

The Warriors came out of the gates hot, as they forced a turnover-on-downs on the first series of the game. They were able to move the ball some, but eventually had to punt. After it seemed as though the Warrior defense would force their second turnover-on-downs in as many tries, Richland scored on 4th down to put themselves up a score. West Branch was able to attain a few first downs, but the Rams were playing lock-down defense. West Branch would go on a swing of consecutive punts, and eventually the Rams blocked one and took it back for six. The Rams would score twice more to go into the half up 28-0.

The 2nd half didn’t bring about any changes for the Warriors. The offense couldn’t get anything rolling. Derek Yingling was held in check all night, as he rushed for just 76 yards. Ayden Gutierrez had his worst night of the season passing, as he threw just one completion. Meanwhile, the Rams offense looked just as good as the L.A. Ram’s offense: they couldn’t be stopped. As each Richland score went onto the board, the Warriors’ hopes dwindled more and more.

Will Herring created the only offensive score for West Branch. Early in the 4th quarter, Herring scooped up a squib kick and took it back 72 yards to the house. The score however was too little, too late for West Branch, as the Warriors could only watch the minutes run off of the clock, thus ending their season.

West Branch finished their season at 5-6, their best finish since 2011. Two of their losses came in overtime, and they lost another game by eight points. This group was a competitive bunch who always gave everything they had. The senior class will be greatly missed, as they were very important in putting West Branch Football back on the map.

“I’m glad to say that I was the first class in a very long time to go to playoffs,” Josh Cantolina said. “We worked very hard to reach this goal, and we’ve always stuck together. I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with a different group of guys.”