Tensions ran high during the first meeting between the Del Norte and Brookings football teams since 2011 as the old rivalry resumed on Friday with lots of personal fouls, penalties, and an ejection in the first half. The Warriors were able to grab a big early lead, however, and pull away for a 35-0 victory, led by a five-touchdown night by Del Norte’s do-everything senior quarterback Ethan Price.
“That first half seemed like it was a whole game. Once again we had the feeling like we had the game in control, but then we get a penalty here and a penalty there, and then anything can happen,” said Del Norte head coach Lewis Nova. “Again we shot ourselves in the foot a number of times, and Brookings came out and battled us up front, but we wore them down. We were able to make some plays when we needed to make some plays.”
Brookings, meanwhile, dealt with a few penalty problems of its own in the first half as both teams were whistled for multiple penalties and personal fouls through the first two quarters.
“You are always going to have high-intensity rivalry games, and kids can have a little too much emotion, but there are no excuses,” said Brookings first-year head coach Shaun Bavaro. “We have a young group, and we just have to mature. We can’t play after the whistle. The kids are starting to figure out that it just shoots us in the foot because it stalls a drive or gives them a first down, and it just kills us.
“We have a lot of work to do on that, and it is just immaturity and lack of discipline. I will take that as the head coach, and we will get that corrected.”
Penalties aside, Del Norte managed to control the game for all four quarters.
Del Norte got the opening kickoff but was forced to punt from inside Brookings territory. Ethan Price let loose a great punt that went out of bounds at the Brookings 6 yard line. After a 3 yard loss on a run by Brookings on first down, Del Norte’s Eli Larson broke through the line of scrimmage on second down and tackled the Bruins ball carrier 2 yards deep in the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 Warrior lead.
“We could have gone for it on fourth down towards the middle of the field, but I chose to punt it and we had a great punt,” Nova said. “Then our defense got hungry and went after it, and they got us that safety. That put us up and we just never let it go after that.”
Following the safety, Del Norte got the ball back at the 36 yard line, and two plays later OJ Calleja found Price for a 61-yard touchdown pass.
Calleja found Price again in the second quarter for a 27-yard touchdown pass and a 21-0 lead with 9:40 to play before halftime. Brookings fumbled the ball on the ensuing kickoff and Del Norte recovered the ball at the Bruins’ 37 yard line.
Three plays later Price found Giovanni Gonzalez for a 40-yard touchdown pass.
Price also had a 4-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter to complete an impressive five-touchdown performance. Price finished with 11 carries for 121 yards and two touchdowns, three catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns and was 3-of-7 through the air for 58 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
“Some of those runs were just fantastic,” Nova said. “You always talk about team though — the team got him that pass, and he takes it down the sideline with his individual effort. It took both things with a good solid team effort, and then throw on top of that a guy that is going to give you 100 percent throughout the entire game.”
Nova was also impressed with Calleja, who ended the game going 4-for-14 passing with 114 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Puente ran the ball 11 times for 121 yards.
“Once again OJ came through and did a lot of good things for us at that quarterback position too, and Puente runs that ball like a little tank,” Nova said.
Del Norte ran the ball 33 times for 237 yards overall to go along with 172 yards passing. Brookings fished the game with 18 rushes for 29 yards while throwing 46 yards on 15 attempts.
Defensively, Del Norte forced four turnovers in the game, including two interceptions by junior cornerback Chase Blackburn.
“He played that outside corner position solidly,” Nova said. “(Brookings) didn’t want to go against him. When you know that, then you are shutting down part of the field already. He did a great job at that outside corner spot and changed the momentum of the game.”
Bruins quarterback Andrew Burger lead Brookings with 42 yards rushing on 14 carries. He was also 2-of-13 throwing the ball with two interceptions.
“It was rough,” Bavaro said. “There are a lot of things to learn after winning the week before and getting our butts kicked this week. We just have to get better. We will get better as coaches and we will coach our kids up better.”
Del Norte improves to 4-0 on the season with the win, while Brookings falls to 1-1 overall this year.
“It is a learning experience for us. We have 22 sophomores in a program of 43 players, so we are super young,” Bavaro said. “We have talked about it from day one — how fast we mature will determine our season’s success. We will come back Monday, get after it and just keep pushing forward. The good thing about football is that it is week-to-week, and it’s a new opponent. The biggest thing is that we need to focus on ourselves and get better on the field, and as teammates.”
Del Norte will be back at home next week, taking on Mazama with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. Brookings will be back on the road next week, taking on Rogue River on Friday at 7 p.m.
The Del Norte and Brookings junior varsity teams are scheduled to play on Monday in Brookings starting at 5 p.m.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .