Devoux, Vikings ground Red Hawks
HOLTVILLE — Adding a slight wrinkle to its offensive attack, the Holtville High football team was able to keep Mountain Empire’s defense off balance, and the Vikings defeated the Red Hawks, 37-6, in a San Diego Section Division V quarterfinal game here on Friday.
Holtville (9-2 overall) dominated the line of scrimmage from the first drive of the game and was able to avenge a 20-14 Manzanita League loss to the Red Hawks in Pine Valley four weeks ago.
On Friday, the Vikings took the opening kickoff and marched 69 yards in 12 plays, all rushing plays, and finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run from sophomore Jose Devoux. Francisco Garcia booted the extra point and Holtville was up 7-0 and had eaten up more than seven minutes of the first quarter.
“You couldn’t ask for a better opening drive,” said second-year Holtville head coach Jason Turner. “We wanted to come out and set the tone and settle everybody down and just kind of take the edge off with that long drive.”
The Vikings held Mountain Empire to a three-and-out on its first possession, and when they got the ball back, they went on a seven-play, 47-yard drive that ended with a 32-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Noah Jongeward to C.J. Nunez on the second play of the second quarter. Garcia again added the extra point, and Holtville was up 14-0 with 11:16 left in the first half.
“We wanted to show everybody it was a fluke that they beat us up there the first time we played,” said Holtville senior Tino Burfield. “We had two good weeks of practice and the coaches had a good game plan, and we were able to execute it tonight.”
Burfield was a key to the Vikings’ success on Friday, rushing the ball 13 times for 105 yards. It was a point of emphasis to get him more carries against the Red Hawks and he rewarded the coaches with 47 yards rushing the first two times he touched the ball.
“We were trying to space out their defense. We knew they’d come in focused on stopping Jose (Devoux), and I was able to get a few good runs in there and help us tonight,” Burfield said.
Devoux put an exclamation point on the first half when he sprinted 74 yards for a touchdown with 51 seconds left in the second quarter to give the Vikings a 21-0 lead.
“On that run, I just saw a huge hole and was able to run through it and outrun them to the end zone,” said Devoux, who finished the game with 20 carries for 212 yards and three touchdowns. “I gotta give all the credit to the offensive line; they did a great job all night long.”
Turner knew he was going to keep the ball in Devoux’s hands for the final minute of the half.
“We were in a similar position at Mountain Empire, up 7-0 with about a minute left in the first half, and we threw an interception that led to a touchdown for them,” Turner said. “I had two plays called, and we went with the inside counter knowing he’d either get tackled and the half would end or get lucky if he could break one, and he did.”
The third quarter didn’t start well for the Red Hawks (8-4 overall) who mishandled the kickoff and took over at their own 1-yard line. On the first play, Burfield burst through the line and tackled Mountain Empire’s Esteban Castillo for a safety to put Holtville up 23-0.
The Vikings added two more fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a 39-yard run from Devoux and a 25-yard scamper from Burfield to go ahead 370, before the Red Hawks got on the scoreboard late with a touchdown pass to set up the final score of 37-6.
Now the fourth-seeded Vikings will travel to Escondido to take on top-seeded Orange Glen in the semifinals on Friday. Orange Glen defeated Maranatha Christian, 48-7, in its quarterfinal matchup.
“Orange Glen is a very good team. They’ve got a strong offensive line and an outstanding running back that we are going to have to find a way to slow down,” Turner said. “Our run defense is going to have to be on point when we face them.”
Holtville High cornerback Daniel Bejarano (right) tackles a ball carrier during the Vikings’ home CIF-SDS Div. V quarterfinals game against Mountain Empire High on Friday night at Birger Field in Holtville. PHOTO VINCENT OSUNA