Though the Pioneer Diamondbacks took home a 27-10 win, for awhile, it looked as though both Pioneer and La Feria were playing with a ball made of pig grease rather than pig skin.
The first quarter was marred by fumbles by both teams, but particularly by the Diamondback special teams. Though the defense did a good job of bottling up Lion quarterback Isaac Galpin, fumbles on the punt returns kept the La Feria drives going. Early in the second quarter the two teams traded fumbles , fortunately blunting a Lion drive on the home team’s 17 yard line. When La Feria gambled on a fourth down situation, the Diamondbacks got the ball, only to give it right back with still another a fumble.
Behind 3-7 late in the second quarter, Diamondback receiver Alec Garcia took the handoff from quarterback Alex Ramirez, and was supposed to throw. Seeing no open receivers, Garcia pulled the ball down, then scampered from midfield to score Pioneer’s first touchdown, giving them a 10-7 lead at the half.
Just as he’d had to do in the Hidalgo game in Week 1, Coach Jason Wheeler had to breathe some focus into his troops at the half.
“We weathered the storm. It was unbelievable we were still ahead at half time. But, we didn’t panic. We took care of the football after that,” Wheeler said. “And we got physical in the second half.”
Though he didn’t have a bad first half, quarterback Alejandro “Hondo” Ramirez picked it up during the second stanza.
“He showed some physical running,” Wheeler said. “He’s done a good job of protecting the football. Some of our skill guys let the ball fall out of their hands, and we had to get their attention.”
Ramirez contributed through the air as well. A touchdown pass to tight end James Resendez with 2:35 left in the third quarter added to the cushion, putting Pioneer up 17-10. Fullback Salvador Gonzalez put the game away with a touchdown run late in the fourth quarter, with Leo Rios finishing out the scoring with a field goal 50 seconds to go in the game.
La Feria came into the game with a quarterback with a cannon for an arm, but the Diamondback defense forced him to make hurried passes, and he often over shot his target. During one series in the fourth quarter, the Lions suffered two sacks, forcing them into a fourth and 28 punting situation.
But, the Diamondbacks don’t have long to enjoy their 4-0 status. Next week, the season begins for real as district play begins with an away game at Valley View. Coach Wheeler wants to see his athletes stay focused during all four quarters of the football game.