Eagles ready to battle Liberty Ranch

By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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For the first time since the opening game against Oak Ridge, Vista del Lago figures to be in a competitive football game on Friday. The Eagles have blown out three consecutive opponents in Highlands, Bradshaw Christian and Sierra Valley Conference opponent El Dorado by a combined 180-56 score since opening the season with a 42-6 loss to Oak Ridge. Liberty Ranch is 3-2 on the season and is coming off a 48-0 win over Galt. “Liberty Ranch does a good job on offense,” Vista coach Chris Jones said. “They return a three-year starter at quarterback (Jacob Tibbetts) and he’s got a lot of experience. They do a good job of moving the ball up and down the field and that’s their forte. Our defense will have to play well, similar to how they played against El Dorado, if we’re to win and I think that they’re capable of doing that.” The Hawks lost scholarship running back John Wiernicki, who was the conference’s co-MVP last year along with Vista’s Logan Smith, but still average eight yards per rushing attempt and 237 yards rushing per game. The passing game is less utilized, but Tibbetts can get the job done when called upon. The Hawks run a Wing-T offense and the Eagles have seen elements of that in their win over Bradshaw Christian and in scrimmages against Nevada Union and Lincoln. Also on the minds of some will be the Homecoming activities scheduled throughout the week. While Jones doesn’t think it will be a problem, it is something that needs to be talked about. “We can only control what we can control,” Jones said. “The reality is our responsibility is to go out and play football so that’s what we’ve got to do.” Vista 79, El Dorado 14 For the second straight week, Vista del Lago blew out an overmatched opponent, as the Eagles trounced El Dorado in the Sierra Valley Conference opener on Friday, 79-14. Josh Pfeffer scored three touchdowns; Matt Jimison threw three and ran for another, Andrew Schantz returned two interceptions for scores and Anders Mintz made all 11 extra points and was also a key contributor with his booming kickoffs. The Eagle defense was just as superb as the offense, keeping the Cougars to minimal yards. “We’ve been struggling, trying to catch up after the forfeit,” Jones said. “We wanted to push them to play faster on offense and I’m excited how we played tonight. I told the kids to turn it loose and get after it and I feel we’re a step closer now. We did some really good things tonight.” Right from the start, it was Eagle domination. The defense forced a Cougar punt after three plays gained zero yards and the Eagles took over from the Cougar 43-yard line. On the first play, Pfeffer scored from 43 yards out. After another three and out and a dreadful El Dorado punt, the Eagles took over from the El Dorado 27 and in four plays Jimison scored on a nine-yard run. Vista’s third possession started at the El Dorado 37 and ended with a 37-yard pass from Jimison to Pfeffer. Schantz ended El Dorado’s next drive with an interception, which he returned for about 15 yards for a score. “I was coming in on a blitz and the quarterback was running away from me and he threw it up right into my hands,” said Schantz, who said he was hoping to score a defensive touchdown this season but didn’t know when it was going to happen. Vista del Lago picked up a safety when El Dorado’s long snapper hiked the ball over the punter’s head and out of the end zone and a 30-0 Eagle lead with 2:35 to play in the first quarter. Two plays into the next Vista drive, Jimison threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Brad Rittenhouse. Schantz then picked off his second pass and returned it 44 yards for another score, which gave the Eagles a 44-0 lead. “He just threw it up there and I went after it,” Schantz said. “I wasn’t thinking touchdown right away, but it was a big adrenaline rush. It was fun tonight. It was a good day.” An interception by Jacob Jones led to another Vista score, Pfeffer’s third of the game on an 11-yard run. Later Jimison hooked up with Tyler Kaim for a 67-yard touchdown pass to make it 58-0, all before El Dorado picked up a first down in the game. The Cougars finally got on the scoreboard with a touchdown, but Justin Moore followed it up with a 68-yard strike to Chris Cooper and another Vista score. El Dorado scored again on a kickoff return, but Austin Ibanez ended the scoring in the first half with a seven-yard run. The final score of the game came on a one-yard run by Mitch Jones in the fourth quarter. “The kicking game and defense was spectacular tonight,” Jones said. “When you can force teams to play on a long field it makes it more difficult for them to score and at the same time, we were playing on a 43-yard field the entire first half. Those guys were just terrific tonight.” Vista’s junior varsity team suffered a 16-14 loss to the Cougars. Jorden Torres scored both touchdowns for the Eagles, one on a touchdown pass from Ryan Wert and another on an interception return. Freshman 40, El Dorado 12 The Eagles arrived in the locker room with their game face on Thursday, coming off a loss the previous week. Vista’s offense gained 314 yards, while the defense shutdown the Cougars throughout the game. Quarterback Blake Martin played one of his best games, according to Vista coach Ty Schantz, completing five-of-eight passes for 99 yards and opened up the first touchdown on a 42-yard run along with scoring the third touchdown of the game on a 15-yard run. Cornerback Dylan Hackett intercepted a pass and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown. Jacob Sampson scored the next touchdown on a 69-yard reception. Running back Tanner James ran hard all game and scored on a 10-yard run, while Ney Vencer closed the game with a 23-yard run. Kicker Aaron Schley, who injured his right leg three weeks ago, completed four-of-five extra points kicking with his left leg. “I give these young men a lot of credit,” Schantz said. “They worked hard at practice all week and delivered a punch at game time. El Dorado had a very classy team and played us tough all the way through. We have a tough schedule ahead so we need to continue to work hard and get better.”