Christian Ortiz and Lonnie Wessel score game winning points in 36-35 win
By Patrick Dillon
VISALIA – The Trailblazers’ West Yosemite League home opener on Friday night, Sept. 28, resembled much of their season so far. In a back-and-forth game they were victorious over the Mt. Whitney Pioneers 36-35.
“This win was much needed,” Golden West head coach Paul Preheim said. “It proved to our kids that despite being young they can compete.”
Golden West (3-3, 1-0) did not secure the win until the last part of the fourth quarter. Christian Ortiz capped of the Blazers’ second to last drive with a rushing touchdown. The score was Ortiz’s only of the game and helped him go over 100 yards on the night. Not to mention it pulled the Blazers within one of the Pioneers (3-3, 0-1) 35-34. A successful two-point conversion by Lonnie Wessel turned out to be the deciding points.
After the Blazers’ defense held the Pioneers’ offense to a three and out Golden West’s running game ran the rest of the clock out.
While it took all four quarters both teams took turns holding the lead, the Blazers had a couple chances to extend their lead before the half. Just before halftime they were on the five-yard line and failed to punch the ball in. They got another chance with 20 seconds left after an interception but a missed field goal left both teams tied at 21-21.
It was a very productive night for the Blazers offense. All together they gained over 400 yards of total offense with the majority those yards generated on the ground. Sometimes against as many as nine defenders in the box. The lineman for Golden West used their tenacity to allow their offense to thrive.
“We were able to open up holes tonight against a team who was stacked against the run,” Preheim said.
Although, the Blazers had to fight to gain every yard on the ground having that many defenders so close to the line opened possibilities for the Blazers to throw the ball. The main target was Josiah Washington. He gained 81 yards through the air and a touchdown.
On Friday night, Oct. 5, the Trailblazers will try for two in a row as they host another cross-town rival, the Redwood Rangers (2-4, 1-0). It has been three years since the Blazers have defeated the Rangers. Preheim hopes the switch from opening WYL play against Redwood to playing them in the second week will help his team. The Rangers are coming off a close win last Friday night as they defeated the Lemoore Tigers 21-14.
“They stack up very well against us,” Preheim said. “Who ever wins this game has and inside track to the league title this year.”