In the early games of the 2015 high school football season, the Coachella Valley Arabs’ offense was just off, just enough to short-circuit the team’s up-tempo style.
But as the Desert Valley League season began Friday night, Coachella Valley’s offense was hitting its stride. Behind four rushing touchdown by Romeo Martinez, the Arabs delighted a Homecoming crowd with a 53-18 win over the Cathedral City Lions.
“We are right where we wanted to be right now,” said Arabs Coach Brett Davis, whose team improved to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in league. The Lions dropped to 0-5 for the season.
While keeping to its up-tempo attack, the Arabs showed Friday night that the hurry-up offense can be as much about the run for them as the pass. The Arabs rushed for 205 yards and five rushing touchdowns, including four from Martinez.
“I had counted three touchdowns, until someone told me I scored four,” Martinez said.
From the opening drive for the Arabs — Coachella Valley already held a 6-0 lead after a 63-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by Carl Ortiz on the Lions’ first offensive drive — Coachella Valley set out to prove it could run the ball against a Cathedral City defense that Davis said could defend the pass well.
“That was a big part of the game plan coming in, running the football,” Davis said. “(Cathedral City) has some athletes on the back end. They can cover. We were not going to go crazy and sling it all over the place.”
Martinez rolled up 118 yards on 14 carries in the first half and two touchdowns on runs of 1 and 9 yards. In the second half Martinez added touchdown runs of 3 and 1 yards.
“The linemen were doing really good. We were running the ball hard, excellent, everything,” Martinez said.
The Arabs were also able to throw the ball against the Lions, with quarterback Darius Hulsey completing 18 of 26 passes for 208 yards and one touchdown in the first quarter to Willy Ortiz.
Trailing 32-6 at the half, the Lions fought back behind the running and scrambling ability of quarterback Cameron Lee. Lee capped a strong opening drive of the third quarter with a 13-yard scoring run, then added a 12-yard touchdown run with just 35 second left in the quarter. But the Lions still trailed 39-18 at that moment, and the fourth quarter belongs to the Arabs with two more touchdowns.
Davis said he knew his team’s offense would start to click, even in the early losses.
“We were just a couple of inches from making some things happen in those games,” he said. “And the last few games, things are working. Tonight we played a good game.”
A little sloppy: Both teams struggled with turnovers and penalties through the game. Each team lost a fumble in the first half and the lions later lost a fumble in the fourth quarter that led to Coachella Valley’s final score. And the teams combined for 18 penalties for a combined 154 yards, slowing the pace of the game in the first half. The second half was much crisper, and the final 6:01 of the game was played under a running clock under CIF-SS rules with one team leading by 35 points or more.
COACHELLA VALEY 53, CATHEDRAL CITY 18
(CV) — Carl Ortiz 63 fumble recovery (kick failed)
(CV) — Willy Ortiz 5 pass from Darius Hulsey (Jesus Perez kick)
(CC) — Malik Spencer 8 pass from Cameron Lee (kick failed)
(CV) — 1 run Endrey Aranda 3 run (Perez kick)
(CV) — Romeo Martinez — 1 run (kick blocked)
(CV) — Martinez 9 run (pass failed)
(CC) — Lee 13 run (kick failed)
(CV) — Martinez 3 run (Perez kick)
(CC) — Lee 12 run (run failed)
(CV) — Martinez 1 run (Perez kick)
(CV) — Joseph Damian 1 run (Perez kick)
RUSHING (Carries-Yds-TD) – CC: Cameron Lee 12-98, Jordan Wallace 19-88, Darric Wilson 1-9, Carlos Manzano 1-3, James Green 1-2, Malik Spencer 1-minus 5. CV: Romeo Martinz 22-136, Endrey Aranda 8-47, Joseph Damian 6-22.
PASSING (Comp-Att-TD-INT-Yds) – CC: Cameron Lee 7-15-1-0-122, Malik Spencer 0-1-0-0-0. CV: Darius Hulsey 18-26-1-0-2e 2-32, 08,Armando Deniz 0-1-0-0-0.
RECEIVING (Rec-Yds-TD) – Malik Spencer 3-48-1, Jordan Wallace 2-32, James Green 1-25, Isaiah Ross 1-17. CV- Jacob Salazar 5-49, Marvin Martnez 4-38, Juan Rodriguez 3-42, Carl Ortiz 2-38, Endrey Aranda 2-28, Sadiel Aranda 1-12, Joseph Damian 1-11.