First-year coach Scharton finished season 10-2, St. Joseph moves onto semifinals
Special to The Sun-Gazette
VISALIA – After a successful turn-around this year, Redwood finished their season in a 21-28 quarterfinal loss against St. Joseph from Santa Maria.
St. Joseph recently won the Mountain West league championship, while Redwood finished runner-up to the 12-0 Hanford Bullpups in the West Yosemite League.
Despite the hard-fought loss on Friday, Redwood still changed the future of Ranger football as “the season people will be talking about for years,” said Kevin Scharton to the team. Scharton lead the team to a 10-2 season after finishing 4-7 in 2018.
Redwood accumulated many accolades during this season: breaking Tulare Union 29-game winning streak, winning Redwood’s first playoff game since 2014, finishing with a 10 game winning season for the first time since 1998 and bringing back the Cowhide.
“The biggest lesson learned was battling through adversity,” Redwood quarterback Ryan Rios said. “A lot of people doubted our team early in the season and we proved to everyone, especially ourselves that we were capable of a lot more than many people thought.”
Prior to this game, Redwood had scored nearly twice as many points as they had given up. The team averaged 21 points per game and won eight total games with 30 points or more.
Redwood had the ball at the start, but weren’t able to capitalize on a few deep throws and finish on an interception by Quinton Johnson. St. Joseph’s defense held Redwood from advancing past the 45-yard line and forced the team to punt.
A few plays later, St. Joseph’s Hunter Barnhart connected with Mark Crisp on an 8-yard pass to the right corner of the end zone. The play ended the quarter as the Knights had a 7-0 lead.
In the second quarter, after a long pass then a 7-yard run by Devin Guggia, St. Joseph extended their lead to 14-0 but Redwood countered this with a quick touchdown to end the half.
With 23 seconds left in the half, Ryan Rios found Christian Roldan for a 6-yard touchdown pass to close the gap and spark new energy going into the locker room.
Halfway through the third quarter, St. Joseph acted first with a short 2-yard rush by Guggia following a 27-yard run for the Knights.
Both team’s defenses stepped up and held each other from scoring the rest of the quarter and most of the fourth.
Attempting to run the clock out, St. Joseph slowly but surely found the end zone again for the last time as Guggia rushed for a 2-yard touchdown.
Down 21-7 with about three minutes left, Redwood still wasn’t done. After a handoff from a screen pass, Davis capped off the next possession with a 40-yard touchdown run.
The Rangers’ defense shut down St. Joseph as Mitchell Wilson and Hudson Walker deflected the punt. Gage Walker was able to recover the ball on the 3-yard line followed by Caden Shafer’s final rush into the end zone with 1:48 left of the game.
Now 21-28, St. Joseph received the ball back and wasted the time to end the game crushing Redwood’s comeback attempt.
“One thing I love about this team is that they never give up, they keep fighting, where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Scharton said. “I’m really proud that they stayed in the game and were still able to make some big plays.”
Many receivers and running backs found success offensively through senior quarterback Rios. Rios topped out with 1,742 total yards across 20 touchdowns.
“Of my accomplishments, I’m most proud of the way the team and I have improved each day from the beginning of the year on,” Rios said.“Taking steps forward and staying focused on the next game really helped me continue to learn and grow as a football player.”
Captain and tight end, Sam Olson closed his senior season with 35 catches for 580 yards and 11 touchdowns. One of his favorite plays was his 75-yard touchdown off a bubble screen against Tulare Union where he showcased his speed and agility.
On behalf of his first season, Scharton was most proud of the family he built within the program, which is something he plans to take into the future of Redwood football.
“I’m proud of the way we came out every Friday night and played our hearts out until the end,” Scharton said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more from this bunch of guys.”