Eagles flying in high gear

Vista offense hits its stride
By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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In the middle of a three-game home stretch, Vista del Lago’s varsity football team looks to improve to 3-0 in the Sierra Valley Conference and 5-1 overall with a win over River City. The Eagles are on a roll, having won five straight games, including one by forfeit, but it’s not just the wins but how they’ve gotten them. The offense is hitting on all cylinders, as sophomore quarterback Matt Jimison is becoming more familiar and comfortable with the offense. The receivers are making the catches and running back Josh Pfeffer and the offensive line are moving the ball on the ground. Despite giving up some big plays in Friday’s blowout win over Liberty Ranch, the defense has limited teams from scoring and Anders Mintz has done an exceptional job kicking the ball deep on kickoffs, not to mention being all but automatic on extra points. “We’re getting there and it’s been fun,” Vista coach Chris Jones said. “We’ve scored 29 touchdowns and 205 points in the last three games so I’m pleased with the way we’ve executed on offense. That’s key for us. Defensively, we played so well against El Dorado. Even though we gave up some big plays against Liberty Ranch, we still had seven turnovers if you count stops on fourth down so we did a pretty good job.” Vista’s next challenge is River City, who enters the game with a 2-0 record in league play with wins coming against Union Mine and El Dorado. The Raiders are 2-4 overall, losing to Christian Brothers, Yuba City and Sacramento by a combined 11 points. “River City is a run-heavy team, but they’re trying to give some more multiple-look sets and pass the ball a bit more this year,” Jones said. “They’re bringing their quarterback along and they’ve got a good receiver in Malik Dumentz, who also plays defense and was an all-league player last year as a sophomore.” Pfeffer said, “We’ve come a long way and are playing well right now, but we’ve still got a lot of room for improvement.” Vista 63, Liberty Ranch 21 Vista easily cleared the hurdle the Hawks provided. The game was tied midway through the second quarter, but the Eagles scored twice before halftime and three times in the third quarter to pull away and went on to win by 42 points. “We were successful because we came to play and we played hard,” said Pfeffer, who scored two touchdowns in the game. “We had a chip on our shoulder from last year’s game when we barely beat them in overtime and we came to play tonight.” Brad Rittenhouse had a huge game for the Eagles, as he caught three touchdown passes from quarterback Matt Jimison, from 10, 69 and 12 yards. Tyler Kaim and Chris Cooper also caught touchdowns passes from Jimison, while Jimison and Austin McGuire rushed for touchdowns. “Brad was good tonight,” Jones said. “We’ve been waiting for him to have a breakout game and this was his best game of the season without a doubt.” While the game ended in a blowout, it was close early on. Vista opened the scoring on its first possession on a 15-yard pass from Jimison to Kaim on fourth down. Liberty Ranch got things going in the second quarter with two touchdowns, but the Eagles answered the challenge after each score. Pfeffer scored after the Hawks’ first touchdown on a one-yard run and Jimison ran one in from the four for a 21-14 lead. Before half Rittenhouse’s first touchdown put the Eagles in front 28-14. Vista took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove for another score, capped off by Pfeffer’s second touchdown run, which put the game away. A 69-yard pass to Rittenhouse gave the Eagles a 42-14 lead, followed by another 12-yard TD reception. Jimison’s final touchdown pass to Cooper, from 80 yards, came in the fourth quarter. McGuire capped the scoring later with a four-yard run. Anders Mintz made all nine of his extra-point attempts. About the only negative for the Eagles was that they gave up some big plays, particularly on third and fourth down. “We gave up some plays tonight and we’ve got to be better than that, particularly on third-and-long,” Jones said. JV Liberty Ranch 28, Eagles 26 Vista del Lago blew a halftime lead and dropped its second straight game. Despite losing the lead, the Eagles battled back with a long touchdown pass to Brayden Shouse, who caught a tipped pass that wasn’t even intended for him and took it in for the score to bring his team to within two points with 2:46 to play. The two-point conversion pass from Ryan Wert to Mike McMahon, however, didn’t result in a score, as McMahon was kept out of the end zone and the Hawks ran out the clock and got the win. Earlier in the game Wert threw touchdown passes to Daniel Morgan and McMahon, while McMahon threw a scoring pass to Nick Brown. “Lack of discipline has caused the last two losses,” Vista coach Lance Moore said. Freshman Inderkum 26, Vista del Lago 21 Blake Martin opened the scoring with a 15 yard run. Vista’s next score came from a 43-yard pass from Martin to Jacob Simpson and the ensuing two-point conversion on a pass to Alec Spence tied the game at 14 at halftime. Inderkum took a 26-14 lead before the Eagles scored one last time with less than a minute to play in the game on a pass from Martin to Palmieri covering 30 yards. Inderkum recovered Vista’s onside kick and ran out the clock for the win. “The boys played a great game against a very tough and fast Inderkum team,” Vista coach Ty Schantz said. “We lost the game on two clear defensive missed assignments along with mistakes we continue to make that cost us during critical moments. We had some outstanding players on defense, who made a lot of good things happen. Trent Jas, Douglas Bricker, Ethan Werst, Wade Thomson, Nick Williams and Daniel Ferguson caused fumbles, had six sacks and made a ton of tackles. We are continuing to get better each week and that’s all I ask from the team, to compete and get better.”