Ranger football rallies for first win of season

Redwood overcomes an early two-score deficit to defeat the Kingsburg Vikings 20-18

VISALIA – The Redwood Rangers have started a season 0-4 just one time in the last 17 years, and narrowly avoided a similar fate this season. Last Friday they sealed their first win since the 2019 playoffs with a late stand on a two-point conversion against the Kingsburg Vikings.

After overcoming an early deficit, Redwood scored 20 unanswered points to go up 20-12 with 10 minutes remaining in the game. After both teams traded possessions and the Rangers attempted to drain the clock, they apparently left their opponents with too much time as the Vikings got the ball back with just under two minutes remaining and nearly put together a game-tying drive. Two big passes got them down to the opposing 30-yard line which set up one of the plays of the night.

Ranger football rallies for first win of season
Senior Karson Everett led the team in rushing with over 140 yards against Kingsburg.photo by Jermaine Johnson II

Kingsburg junior quarterback Ethan Winslow dropped back to pass and rolled left. He felt the pressure from the defense and dodged defenders before scrambling all the way back to the other side of the field. Winslow then threw a prayer into the end zone and the ball went over a group of guys into the arms of junior Trace Jackson in the back of the end zone for his only catch of the night. It was a Hail Mary type of play except it happened on first down with 34 seconds remaining and the Vikings were now down two points. They turned to Jackson again on the conversion, this time on the ground, but he was stuffed at the goal line by the Ranger defense for what then became the biggest play of the night. Redwood went on to recover the onside kick which sealed their first win of the season.

The Rangers have been no stranger to close games as their last two losses were by eight points and three points respectively. According to head coach Kevin Scharton, inexperience has been a major storyline for the team so far this season and the win provided a necessary confidence boost.

“The close games really pointed out the many mistakes we were making in those games,” Scharton said. “Now that we finally have that ‘W,’ I think our kids know what it takes to win and how to play well on Friday night.”

After an early stuff on fourth down in the red zone followed by an interception on their first two offensive drives of the game, the Rangers found themselves trailing 12-0 towards the midway point of the second period. That’s when they turned to their senior captains, receiver Kolby Howard and running back Karson Everett. A long catch by Howard followed by a long run by Everett got their team down to the red zone, and Everett finished the job for his first of two scores on the night. His second touchdown run came in the last three minutes of the third quarter, which gave the Rangers a 14-12 lead.

The longest score of the night came through the air for Redwood, in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Junior quarterback Francisco Alvarez found the team’s other senior captain, receiver Ashton Ibarra, on a short pass and Ibarra did the rest of the work by taking it nearly 60-yards for the score that put their team up eight points. They missed the extra point which could have proved costly as it kept the game at one possession in the fourth quarter, but they held on for the win.

It’s onward to league for both squads as the Rangers hope to have better luck in their next five games compared to their first three. They’ve finished the last two seasons at second place in the West Yosemite League behind Hanford, a team that looks poised for another title run as they’re currently 3-0 and have outscored opponents 103-14. Redwood will have two more games before they play the Bullpups, beginning Friday night at home against the 4-1 Lemoore Tigers at 7 p.m. For Kingsburg, they sit at 3-2 and open their league schedule tomorrow night on the road against Exeter at 7:15 p.m.

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