In the battle of the Purple Hills, the Coachella Valley’s version — Shadow Hills — fell to the Inland Empire’s version — Jurupa Hills — 26-0 Friday in a CIF-SS Eastern Division quarterfinal.
The two schools have a remarkable number of attributes in common: They both have “Hills” in their name, both schools’ primary color is purple, and they were founded within a year of each other — Shadow Hills in 2009 and Jurupa Hills in 2010.
Both teams also featured a nearly identical offense of run first, and second, and third. Shadow Hills quarterback Michael Suarez completed just two passes on eight attempts for eight yards. His counterpart, Damion Wright, went 9-of-22 for 66 yards with a touchdown.
All the running made for a game that was completed in just over two hours.
Not much happened for the Knights, as they failed to get across the 50-yard line until their first drive of the third quarter.
“We just didn’t come out to play in the first half. We were sleeping and they caught us sleeping,” senior running back Alex Lopez said. “We weren’t playing the way we could. We just let them beat us on big plays – they drove the ball, drove the ball, we didn’t step up in time. We picked it up the second half but it just wasn’t enough.”
All of the scoring occurred in the first half, and all of that was by the Spartans, who scored a touchdown in the first quarter on a six-yard run by Frank Saucedo.
They scored three more touchdowns in the second quarter, on a one-yard touchdown by Wright, a nine-yard touchdown toss from Wright to offensive lineman Raymond Franco and a 35-yard pick-six by linebacker Tyler Drake.
Shadow Hills played better after halftime, but still couldn’t get rid of that goose-egg on the scoreboard.
Lopez picked up his play in the second half enough to lead the team in rushing with 86 yards on 12 carries. The Knights ran for 170 total yards, with Suarez picking up 36.
“The first half, our kids just didn’t show up to play,” said Shadow Hills head coach Ron Shipley. “I don’t know what it was. Whether it was the cold air or the wind, I don’t know what it was. We just didn’t show up to play in the first half and we got in too big of a hole and we made mistakes and we don’t have the offense to get out of that.”
Game-time temperature was in the low 50s, but more importantly, a cold 30-40 mph wind blew consistently throughout the game across the field that made kicking from a tee a chore and severely limited the passing game. Jurupa Hills missed three PATs, making a two-point conversion, Suarez threw three interceptions and Wright threw one.
“When we tried to throw the ball in the first half and you throw a pick for a touchdown and another interception it kind of takes the confidence out of your quarterback,” Shipley said.
Shadow Hills finishes the 2013 season 7-5. A season that included winning the first postseason game in school history by beating Brethren Christian 31-24 in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Eastern Division playoffs.