Former foes don’t generally make for new friends.
Past and present De Anza League teams squared off at Rancho Mirage High on Friday night, with visiting Shadow Hills seeking to announce with authority its graduation to the Desert Valley League, and the host Rattlers aiming to keep the Knights eyes in the rear view.
And it didn’t take long for Rancho Mirage to cast a “shadow” on the past.
For the second consecutive week in the young season, the Rattlers’ Marques Prior turned his opening touch into a score, dashing for a 68-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage to give Rancho Mirage a lead it would never relinquish. Despite late game pluck from the visitors, the Rattlers held on for a convincing, 37-21 victory.
“We try not to look in the past so much, but the last time Shadow Hills played here, they beat us 62-12, when we only had juniors,” said Rancho Mirage head coach L.D. Matthews. “We talked about that this week and we knew Shadow Hills was gonna be hungry coming in here tonight because of last year, the last game of the season when we knocked them out of the playoffs. I’m proud of the kids and now it’s on to La Quinta.”
Taking a 17-0 edge to halftime, Prior tallied his second TD of the night with a 1-yard plunge on Rancho Mirage’s first drive of the third period. Five minutes later, a 35-yard interception return for score by Rattlers’ senior linebacker Michael Ramos put the game out of reach.
Nonetheless, 11 penalties for Rancho Mirage gave the winning sideline pause.
“There were some mental-discipline penalties tonight: late hits out of bounds, false starts, jumping offsides,” added Matthews. “Stuff like that we’ve got to clean out, or teams down the road are going to take advantage of it. Anytime you get a win, it’s great. But I’m just a little frustrated with the offense; too many penalties tonight.”
Though the two-score, final difference belied the competitiveness of the contest, Shadow Hills did outscore Rancho Mirage in the second half, 21-20, compliments of three fourth quarter touchdown by Knights junior back JD Lang.
“We just started off way too late on both sides of the ball, mainly with our defensive game,” Lang said. “But our coaches really pumped us at halftime and asked if we really wanted to go out like this.”
Stars of the Game
Marques Prior and Kyle Whitefield: Along with Prior’s opening game heroics and 95 rushing yards on the night, Whitefield led the Rattlers’ potent ground attack with 134 yards in 24 carries, including an 18-yard TD in the final quarter
JD Lang: Scoring on runs of 3, 1 and 4 yards, respectively, Lang also added a two-point conversion rush as the Knights cut the deficit in the game’s waning moments.
Seeking its first 3-0 start in school history, Rancho Mirage (2-0) faces a second consecutive Desert Valley League opponent next Friday night, with a 7 p.m. game at La Quinta. Aiming to rebound from Friday’s loss, the Knights (1-1) will host non-conference foe Tahquitz (Hemet).
(RM) Marques Prior 68 run (Daniel Whelan kick)
(RM) Daniel Whelan 38 yard field goal
(RM) Isaiah Archuleta 19 pass from David Talley (Daniel Whelan kick)
(RM) Marques Prior 1 run (Daniel Whelan kick)
(RM) Michael Ramos 35 yard interception return (Kick Failed)
(SH) JD Lang 3 run (Juan Sotelo kick)
(RM) Kyle Whitefield 18 run (Daniel Whelan kick)
(SH) JD Lang 1 run (Kick Failed)
(SH) JD Lang 4 run (JD Lang run)
RUSHING (Carries-Yds) — SH: Seth Morales 7-44, Lee Hawkins 12-37, Sammy Venegas, Jr. 8-34, JD Lang 7-26. RM: Kyle Whitefield 24-134, Marques Prior 13-95, David Talley 2-7, Michael Provost 1-6, Dwight Balagtas 1-0.
PASSING (Comp.-Att- INT—TD- Yds) — SH: Seth Morales 11-28-1-0-108. RM: David Talley 4-10-1-1-44, Michael Provost 1-1-0-0-4.
RECEIVING (Rec.-Yds) —SH: Scott Rissman 3-50, Kevin Johnson 3-30, JD Lang 2-9, Juan Sotelo 2-8, Matthew Kelsey 1-10. RM: Marques Prior 2-15, Isaiah Archuleta 1-19, Kyle Whitefield 1-10, Tyler Ramil 1-4.