Despite the defeat, the Anzar (1-4 overall, 1-2 in league) players are focusing on finishing the season strong.
“We’re going to give it all we’ve got, and we’re not going to give up,” said Hawks fullback/linebacker Angel Jimenez, who is one of the team’s top two-way players. “I pride myself on playing physical, and I’m going to keep on playing that way no matter what.”
Jimenez, a 5-foot-8, 180-pound junior, quickly got acquainted with Woodside Priory (4-0 in league) linebacker Michael Zhao, a 5-10, 230-pound junior. Jimenez carried the ball 18 times in the second half, and often times he got past the line of scrimmage only to see Zhao waiting for him.
Despite being 50 pounds lighter, Jimenez held his own. The two literally butted helmets no less than a dozen times, with neither player blowing up the other.
“It was a stalemate,” Hawks coach Luis Espinoza said. “It was great to see two guys battle it out like that.”
Anzar trailed 28-16 before engineering one of its best drives of the season, a methodical 14-play, 70-yard drive that culminated on Jimenez’s 1-yard run with 10:05 left in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Dave Contrath followed with a successful 2-point conversion run, cutting Anzar’s deficit to 28-24. However, that’s as close as the Hawks would get. Anzar had three more possessions in the game, but stalled badly on two drives and couldn’t advance farther than the Panthers’ 18 on the other series.
Meanwhile, the Panthers scored on its second to last possession to seal the outcome.
Anzar has lost both of its league games by a combined 16 points. Turnovers continue to plague the Hawks, who gave the ball away six times on Friday.
Every time Anzar was driving for a go-ahead or tying score, it committed a turnover in agonizing fashion. The toughest giveaway came with the Hawks having just gained the ball after a turnover on downs with 9:04 left in the third quarter.
Trailing 22-16, Anzar gave the ball right back on the very next play, fumbling the ball on a botched handoff.
“We need to stop the mistakes,” Espinoza said. “Our strength is running the ball, and if we get behind by more than two touchdowns, it’s hard for us to come back. This was a tough one, but I’m proud of the kids because they didn’t give up. I’m not mad; I’m just sad. I can’t be mad at the kids because they played their hearts out.”
Hawks linebacker Andrew Huaracha made plays all over the field, finishing with an interception, a couple of sacks and forcing a fumble.
“Andrew and Angel played great,” Espinoza said. “They play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. They’re tough, physical and love to hit.”
The Hawks scored their first TD when Dave Conrath hooked up with Elvis Banuelos for a 15-yard pass, and Adam Banuelos accounted for the team’s next TD on a 3-yard run.
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