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Dust Devils and Saints meet in opener

Dave Price

He would just rather forget about the 25-0 score the Saints took home with them back to Clarksburg, Calif.

“That’s a good football team,” Cattanach said of the Saints, a late addition when Nevada 2A opponent Whittell backed out on Dayton’s schedule. “I knew that even though they’re a school of only 300 (students), they have a reputation for getting after it.

“I would have much rather played Whittell,” he added, laughing. “But maybe, in the long run, this was better for us. This lets us know exactly where we are.”

The Saints were 4-5 last year but were a playoff qualifier from their Sacramento Valley League. There were some question marks coming into the opener.

“I was concerned because we didn’t know how good we were going to play,” Delta coach Anson Cornwell said. “We’d only had one scrimmage, but other than some little first game stuff, I thought we played pretty well, especially on defense.”

The Dust Devils were never able to get their newly installed wing-T offense on track all night.

“Just look at the statistics. That tells the story,” Cattanach said.

Dayton only gained 30 yards in total offense, all of which came on the ground. They finished with three first downs, one of which came on a penalty.

“We’re not very big,” Cornwell said. “Butch had told me they had adequate size, but when I saw them come out, I said, ‘Oh no.’ I think we just outquicked them.”

Cattanach gave credit to the Saints.

“They just beat us all the way across the front,” he said. “That No. 65 (5-6, 150-pound lineman Jake Hansen) kicked our butts.”

Delta struck on its opening drive when Christopher Chan scored on a 5-yard run. The Saints drove 74 yards in 13 plays, highlighted by a pair of fourth-down conversions – Chan ran 9 yards on fourth-and-4 from Delta’s 32 and Aaron Kawahara’s 4-yard run on fourth-and-4 from Dayton’s 18.

“The quarterback called that first one,” Cornwell said. “When I saw how far we had to go, I was concerned, but Christopher is strong. He’s a good football player.”

Dayton got a break later in the first quarter when linebacker Ivan Trigueros recovered a fumble at Delta’s 33, but the Dust Devils turned the ball over on downs at the 24.

Dayton was hurt by a bad snap from punt formation midway through the second quarter, a play that set Delta up with first-and-goal from the 9. Two plays later, Hector Arredondo ran 5 yards for a touchdown to put the Saints up 12-0.

Dayton got a spark early in the third quarter when senior defensive end Josh May sacked Delta quarterback Justin Lawson for a loss at the 12. The play forced the Saints into a punting situation and Dayton took over at Delta’s 36.

Jory Eley, who took over at quarterback to start the second half, scrambled for 12 yards and a first down at Delta’s 25, but the Dust Devils turned the ball over two plays later when Chris Gualco recovered a fumble. The Dust Devils lost the ball three times on fumbles in the second half.

Clayton Kirchoff recovered another fumble at Dayton’s 9 to set up an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Lawson to Brett Baker. Delta scored once more on a 4-yard Casey Kirchoff run on the game’s final play from scrimmage.

“We gave up a couple of late scores when our second team was on the field, but overall, I thought we played better defense in the second half,” said Cattanach, whose Dust Devils now have two weeks to prepare for their Sept. 7 Northern 3A opener at home against Rite of Passage.

“Hopefully the kids learned that you have to get after it when you play against a good football team

Notes … Dayton used some big plays to win the J.V. game 22-16. Dylan Morris scored on a 35-yard run, Dustin Watkins broke a 65-yard touchdown run to help stake the Dust Devils to a 16-0 lead at the end of three quarters and Tim Torres ran 7 yard for another score.