Offensive line, back-ups step up for Hoopa in key win

File photo

Thanks in large part to the play of their offensive line, the Hoopa Warriors got their first win of the new football season on Saturday.

It took them two overtime periods, but when the final buzzer had sounded Hoopa walked away with a 28-20 win over South Fork in a game that was moved from Hoopa to Crusader Field in Eureka because of the air quality inland earlier in the week.

There was little to separate the two teams for much of the afternoon and they were deadlocked 14-14 after four quarters.

Both teams scored a TD in the first overtime, with the Warriors finally securing the win in the second OT.

Senior Kenek Turner scored both of Hoopa’s touchdowns in overtime, as the Warriors took advantage of some good offensive line play from a unit that includes Brentley Clark, Darius Ruiz, Maisath Childs, Dusty Rhodes and Alan Mace.

The win comes one week after a lopsided loss to St. Bernard’s in their season opener and head coach Floyd “Cowboy” Billings was happy with the way his players responded. 

“We moved the ball better,” the coach said. “We worked a lot in practice with our line, shifting it around a little, and we found a good combination. They’re getting in their groove.”

The linemen weren’t the only Hoopa standouts on the day.

With quarterback Brandon Romero — who was his team’s best performer in week one — sidelined through injury, Nathan Edwards got his first-ever high school start at the position and did not disappoint.

“He kept his poise and did well,” his head coach said.

So too did the versatile Jack “Cruz” Sylvia, who scored on a 45-yard TD run and blocked a pair of PATs on special teams.

“He plays wherever we tell him, wherever we need him to play,” Billings said of Sylvia.

Turner also impressed as the Warriors went to their ground game and had success running ball.

According to the coach, the senior finished with 120 yards rushing, as well as the two TDs.

Trystan Billings rounded out the Hoopa scoring with a TD run, as he continues his impressive start to the new season, following a pair of takeaways on defense the previous weekend.

The Warriors also won despite suffering several injuries, with four starters forced from the game.

File photo – The Hoopa Warriors beat South Fork in double overtime Saturday afternoon.

The back-ups, however, stepped in and did a good job.

“We had four skill position players go down with injuries before overtime, and key starters at that,” Cowboy Billings said. “But the kids that came in, they went in there and what they’re supposed to do.”

The Warriors will hope to carry the momentum from that win into this week’s non-league matchup against Arcata at McKinleyville High, the first of three games between the two programs this fall.

Three of the four injured players are expected back this week, along with Romero.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday night.

For more on the South Fork Cubs, see Freitas, Way shine for South Fork Cubs in overtime loss …

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