Call him Kaleb the Closer.
With host Shadow Hills hanging to a 20-14 lead late in the third quarter in an engaging non-conference contest versus Tahquitz High (Hemet) on Friday night, Knights’ junior Kaleb Welmas – his neon green shoes beaming through the eve — suddenly transformed the entire complexion of the game in a matter of real-time minutes.
After the visiting Titans cut the deficit to a score with just under six minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Knights’ going four-and-out on their ensuing possession, Welmas flashed for an interception of Tahquitz quarterback Elijah Johnson in Shadow Hills territory to get his reeling team the ball back. Five plays later, the Knights took a 28-14 lead, compliments of a two-yard TD pass from Seth Morales to JD Lang and a Welmas two-point conversation run.
On the Titans’ next play from scrimmage, Welmas picked off Johnson again, with those neon greens bringing a home crowd to its feet as the junior took the interception back for a 50-yard return and score.
Both teams would find the end zone a final time in the fourth as Shadow grabbed a 41-21 win.
“When I got the pick six, I saw the guy coming in for a slant, read the quarterback, came in and made the play,” said Welmas. “And I just feel like that’s where the momentum shifted, and the crowd went wild. I try to be a leader of the team, be a voice and get things going for us. I try to play a big role in that.”
Coming off a listless, 37-21 loss at Rancho Mirage last week, Shadow Hills was searching for a spark.
“Last week was very disappointing, not only for myself and my staff but for our entire team,” said Shadow Hills’ head coach Ron Shipley. “The guys understood that and knew we had something to prove this week. And Kaleb just has that ability, he makes things happen.”
And of those neon green shoes?
“I always have interesting cleats, and soccer cleats are my thing,” smiled Welmas after the win. “They’re nice and light.”
Star of the Game
Welmas: Along with his pair of picks, key defensive score and timely two-point conversion, Welmas tallied 52 ground yards on six carries and caught a pass for 13 yards. He also added a 4-yard touchdown run.
Lee Hawkins: Shouldering a Shadow rushing attack that amassed 296 total ground yards on the evening was Knights’ 5-foot6, 140-pound sophomore back Hawkins, who ran for 142 yards on 22 carries and scored twice.
“He did a great job hitting the holes tonight,” said Shipley of Hawkins. “If he had a little more size to him, he’d be deadly.”
Stats, facts, notes
After opening the season with two road games, Friday began a stretch where the Knights play four out five games at home.
Shadow Hills (2-1) faces a second consecutive Mountain Pass League opponent next Friday night, with a 7:00 p.m. home game versus Hemet High (2-1); the Bulldogs entered the week as the seventh-ranked team in Division 8.
Shadow Hills 41, Tahquitz 21
Tahquitz 0 6 8 7 — 21
Shadow Hills 7 7 6 21 — 41
(SH) Lee Hawkins 5 run (Juan Sotelo kick)
(T) Devin Howard 30 pass from Elijah Johnson (Kick failed)
(SH) Kaleb Welmas 4 run (Juan Sotelo kick)
(SH) Lee Hawkins 1run (Kick failed)
(T) Elijah Johnson 11 run (Elijah Johnson to Theo Parrish)
(SH) JD Lang 2 pass from Seth Morales (Kaleb Welmas run)
(SH) Kaleb Welmas 50 interception return (Juan Sotelo kick)
(T) Devin Howard 12 pass from Elijah Johnson (Chase Thorton kick)
(SH) Albert Islas 7 run (Pass failed)
RUSHING (Carries-Yds) — T: Juan Denny 21-72, Elijah Johnson 7-55, Davis Kerrick 2-6. SH: Lee Hawkins 22-142, Kaleb Welmas 6-52, Seth Morales 3-52, Willie Hawkins 3-28, Albert Islas 2-14, Matthew Kelsey 1-8
PASSING (Comp.-Att- INT—TD- Yds) — T: Elijah Johnson 15-28-2-2-164. SH: Seth Morales 8-15-0-1-103.
RECEIVING (Rec.-Yds) — T: Theo Parrish 4-51, Tyree Chaisson 4-24, Devin Howard 3-63, Juan Denny 3-28, Davis Kerrick 1-2. SH: Christian Mathews 2-48, JD Lang 2-28, Mathew Kelsey 2-4, Kaleb Welmas 1-13, Kevin Johnson 1-10.