WINDSOR – Twice defending Class 4A state champion Windsor could’ve given in.
And twice the Wizards responded.
Showing plenty of championship mettle, top-ranked Windsor traded scores with sixth-ranked Vista Ridge in the first half, then buckled down for a season-opening 33-21 victory Friday night at H.J. Dudley Field.
“That was a great definition of what Windsor football is all about,” Skyler Brower said after his debut as interim coach. “We preach, ‘On to the next 30 seconds.’ We don’t dwell on a negative play. If we get beat, the offense responds, the defense responds.
“The kids do a great job of understanding what this program is all about.”
After adjusting to Vista Ridge’s big-play passing game that caused major problems in the first half, Windsor seemed to have things under control.
But then a muffed punt gave the Wolves a first-and-10 at the Windsor 11 midway through the fourth quarter and the Wizards still clinging to a 26-21 lead.
But two negative plays, with each accompanied by a major penalty, resulted in Vista Ridge having third-and-55. That’s correct, third-and-55.
“Blinders on,” Brower said. “We had a bad play on a punt return, but it didn’t get them down. They came out and still owned the field.”
Said Jake Hammond, “Regardless of whether we’re on the 1-yard line, or the other 1-yard line, we never give up. Hats to the ball. They’re not scoring.”
In the first half, Vista Ridge drove 80 yards in seven plays — highlighted by a 31-yard pass to Marquez Trunnell on a post pattern — and took a 21-20 lead on a 41-yard catch and run by Kyle Jones with 1:18 left in the half.
But Windsor was undaunted.
Connor Apodaca found Hammond near the sideline, and Hammond started heading out of bounds to stop the clock. But he picked up a block and wound up turning it into a 19-yard scoring play that put the Wizards back in front 26-21 with 4.6 seconds left in the half.
“The defense gave up some points in the first half, but the offense had their backs,” said Hammond, who plays on both sides of the ball.
Apodaca completed 9 of 20 passes for 140 yards and three touchdowns, including a 24-yard score to Pedersen with 2:16 left that represented the only score of the second half and put the game on ice.
Hammond caught two first-half touchdown passes and had the unenviable task of trying to stop Trunnell, who caught eight passes for 184 yards and two first-half scores.
Windsor adjusted its coverage to give Hammond some help in the second half, and Vista Ridge had to settle for shorter passes. Still, Dylan Schindele completed 23 of 29 for 299 yards.
Vista Ridge 6 15 0 0–21
Windsor 6 20 0 7–33
W—Ramirez 39 run (kick blocked)
VR—Trunnell 41 pass from Schindele (run failed)
W—Hammond 38 pass from Apodaca (Ramirez run)
W—Watson 3 fumble recovery (kick blocked)
VR—Trunnell 40 pass from Schindele (Thomas run)
VR—Jones 41 pass from Schindele (Diaz Gomez kick)
W—Hammond 19 pass from Apodaca (run failed)
W—Pedersen 24 pass from Apodaca (Broghamm kick)