Sports

Raiders hold off Warriors

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

The Sonora Raiders held off the Troy Warriors at home winning 41-26.

The Raiders got out to a big lead in the first quarter, up 20-0, but the resilient Warriors chipped away at the Sonora lead to come within three points.LHJ SHS vs Troy FB

“I loved the way we came out, our kids were playing physical, they were getting after it, you know but Troy is a good team, head coach Paul Chiotti said, “I said ‘guys, can’t let em off the ropes, they’re going to fight back.'”

But after five straight scoreless possessions, the Raiders needed a touchdown and a jolt of energy.  They knew just who to go to.

Jason Clayton was in the midst of his return from a broken collarbone. He’d played in scattered series throughout the evening, but with the Raiders in need of a touchdown on third down, they called his number.

“It’s just an amazing feeling, and it’s just terrible to be out and miss most of your senior year, but I made a promise to myself that when I come back, I’d come back stronger than ever,” Clayton said.

Clayton sprinted down the right sideline, breaking loose from the coverage, and laid out for a ball in the end zone. Clayton made the grab just before he was mobbed by his teammates.LHJ SHS vs Troy FB

“To lay out on that touchdown catch, that’s huge, because not only did it make a play that turned the tide in the game, his teammates are glad to see him back,” Chiotti said.

With their lead now stretched to 10 points, the Raiders were in the driver’s seat with a quarter left to play.

“It taught us one major thing, and that’s teamwork,” Cole McDonald said.

“Right after that, we got electric,” Clayton said.

From there, the Raiders continued to hand the ball to Jacob Fimbres who’d been doing the heavy lifting for the Raiders with 32 carries for the Raiders.

“Running behind my lineman, I can always trust them, and if they give me a one second gap to pop, I can score,” Fimbres said.

Fimbres didn’t fail to disappoint, putting the game on ice with two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. His strong showing brought his rushing total to 320 yards and 5 touchdowns.

“He works hard, the line responds to that, they see him working hard and they work hard,” Chiotti said.

LHJ SHS vs Troy FB

The Warriors did their work in the second and third quarters. With Sonora out to a big lead, the Warriors first touchdown came on a 57 yard scramble from Josiah Norwood.

The Warriors were able to find open space through the air in the middle of the field, as a result of their success running sideline to sideline by Dray Shaw and Norwood.

Ryan Scotti was the biggest threat on the outside, and was double covered most of the game by Clayton and Ben Kim. Scotti was limited to just 80 yards through the air, but most of that came when he broke a tackle by Kim and ran down the sideline. That 32 yard pass would set up the Warriors second touchdown, a one yard run by Shaw.

Midway through the third quarter, the Warriors recovered a fumble on an errant snap to McDonald. The Warriors picked it up with plenty of blocking ahead, but were called back for a penalty.

The penalty would eventually force the Warriors to settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown which could have put them ahead of the Raiders.

This was the closest the Warriors came, as the Raiders regained their composure and ran away with the game.

LHJ SHS vs Troy FB

The Raiders spent some of their pregame preparation thinking about their attitude at this point in the season.

“When we faced tons of adversity, we pointed fingers,” McDonald said, “We just made it a big point not to say that stuff. Gain confidence, build each other up, and we did and it really helped us out a lot.”

The Raiders have played in a few close games this season, and those games are helping them gain confidence and stay resilient.

“Sunny Hills just really opened our eyes, and we realized we had to come together as a team if we wanted to pull away with a win,” McDonald said.

The Raiders next game will be against Fullerton and will again be at home at La Habra Stadium.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.