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Eagles blank Spartans 21-0

October 21, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

Through three and a half quarters, the Central Union High football team had taken Southwest High's best shots and saw itself only looking at a six-point deficit in El Centro on Friday.

Then on one play — an 89-yard touchdown run — a collective "awww" could be heard from the Central side of the field as the pendulum swung in Southwest's favor in a 21-0 Imperial Valley League verdict.

Not only do the Eagles improve to 1-1 in the IVL, they earn bragging rights as El Centro city champions by winning on Central's home field.

"You know, when you have a city championship like this, there has to be a little emotion out there," said Southwest coach Jerry Storts.

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While Storts' squad got its second victory of the year, an aspect of the game he pointed to as needing a bit more work was his offense, which outgained Central 252-114.

"We missed some passes that we should've hit. But we ran what we needed to run when we needed to run them. Right now we're still trying to find our niche and find where we want to go. And we'll just keep trying and keep pushing," added Storts.

The Eagle defense played one of its best games of the year, holding the Spartans to only 52 yards in the second half and only 22 in the last quarter.

Anchoring the Southwest defense was linebacker Ernie Gradillas, who racked up eight tackles, three assists, four tackles for losses of seven yards and a forced fumble.

"Coming into the game all we could think about was laying hits on everyone and getting some respect," said Gradillas. "This was a big win for us. I think we're going to get a lot of motivation from this."

Ernie wasn't the only Gradillas who had a big night. His brother Albert Gradillas led the Southwest running game by taking a draw play for an 89-yard scamper for a score at the 6-minute, 27-second mark of the third quarter. Gradillas then took in the two-point conversion to up the lead to 14-0.

"When they scored that run on that draw … I'll take responsibility for that one. I called the wrong thing on defense and they scored," said Central coach Joe Apodaca.

Chris Gonzales added 52 yards rushing and Justin Eyer added another 49 to pace the Southwest ground game.

Late in the game Southwest added another score as quarterback Matt Petree connected with Jason Davis in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown with 1:12 remaining in the game. Pee Wee Salazar added the extra point to up the score to 21-0.

Eyer scored the first touchdown of the game for Southwest with 3:55 remaining in the first quarter. A botched snap on the extra point ended the point after attempt.

"This loss was a combination of their defense and us not being able to execute. We just have to execute," said Apodaca. "I look at it like our defense gave up 21 points. On the defensive side of the ball we can't give up any points. But I thought all of our guys played tough and I'm absolutely proud of them."

Leading the Spartan offense were Erik Castro who went 7-for-17 passing for 54 yards, Marcos Navarro with 31 yards rushing, and Anthony Hellum with 28 yards on the ground for Central.

Southwest (2-5 overall) will host CETYS at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Central (1-6, 0-1 IVL) will travel to Blythe to take on Palo Verde at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

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