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Criminals knock off Spartans

September 16, 2001|By IZZY GOULD, Special to this newspaper

YUMA — After two losses and seemingly no one stepping up to exert any leadership, Yuma coach Pat Rowe called on his seniors to use their experience and influence to get his team fired up.

After a sluggish start, both teams came up with big-time plays, entertaining the crowd, but it was the Criminals' fans who might want to hold on to this ticket stub following an impressive 35-20 victory over El Centro's Central Union High School at Doan Field here on Friday night.

While the Criminal seniors played a behind-the-scenes role, sophomore Steve Seale was the show-stopper Friday night, nabbing three touchdowns for Yuma.

"It feels great," Seale said. "I never thought I'd be a sophomore scoring three touchdowns in one game on varsity. I thank my brother (Ryan) personally because he taught me everything I know right now."


Besides being accountable for three scores, Seale carried the ball nine times for 108 yards and had one catch for 14 yards. Rowe said he was happy for both Seale and older brother Ryan, who also had a big night with 13 carries for 50 yards and one touchdown.

"I'll tell you what, the little Seale boys can play," Rowe said. "Little Stevie can play and he's only a sophomore. Ryan also stepped up tonight and he really had a lot to do with making our offense go. I was harping on him and I know he doesn't feel real good about it because I've been all over him for making us go. Tonight he did and he really helped us a lot. I'm proud of him."

After falling behind early on a huge 68-yard touchdown run by the Spartans' Anthony Hellum, Yuma struck back.

On the next drive, starting from Central's 25-yard line, the Criminals completed their only touchdown pass of the evening. Curtis Priest lofted a 32-yard pass to Ryan Seale to give the Criminals a 7-6 lead.

After falling behind again briefly 12-7, Steve Seale lifted the Criminals with the next three scores, raising the spirits of both his teammates and the fans, some waving flags in honor of the terrorist tragedies. Even the Criminals participated, first by placing American flag stickers on the backs of their helmets, then by holding a moment of silence prior to the game.

"My wife came up with the idea of putting the flags on the helmets," Rowe said. "We put them on right before the game and we said a little prayer for all the people involved. We think about our problems and they're so miniscule right now. All we're playing is a game."

On the defensive side there were a number of big plays given up early, and one touchdown with under two minutes remaining, but when the defense had to come up with the big play it called on LaShawn Barron.

"I think I felt intensity with us coming in here from two losses," Barron said. "We know we had to step it up so we got it done. Mainly it was up to the seniors to get us going because it's our year."

Hellum, who finished the game with 183 yards on 16 carries, scored the Spartans second touchdown with a 29-yard run in the second half. Central got a safety in the third quarter and added its final touchdown when Eric Castro connected with Chris Rowles on a 40-yard scoring strike.

Central will be back in action at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home against Palm Desert.

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