Dolores football head coach Ray Davis knew that his Bears squad was moving in the right direction.
In spite of tough losses to begin the season, the Bears played inspired football in front of a homecoming crowd to capture their first victory of the season, 34-12 over Whitehorse.
The Bears (1-3) defense produced six takeaways, while scoring twice on special teams as they held off the Raiders’ (1-2) second-half charge.
The Bears could not have asked for a better start to their night. Junior Isaiah Cordova took the opening kickoff and blasted along the home sideline for an 85-yard return. The touchdown ignited the festive home crowd and broke a stretch of five consecutive games without scoring, dating to last season.
With a lead to defend, the Bears defensive unit played inspired. Bears junior Trey Seekins denied the first Raider drive with a diving interception in the first quarter, then duplicated the feat on the second Whitehorse possession of the evening. Seekins’ second interception set Dolores up at their own 26-yard line midway through the first quarter.
In their most efficient offensive drive of the night, the Bears seized full momentum of the contest as senior Bryce Baumgarten punished the Raiders for big chunks of yardage. Cordova then capped off the drive with a 27-yard touchdown run to put the home side up 12-0.
Adding to his highlight-filled night, Cordova stepped in front of a Raider pass to collect the third interception of the night midway through the second quarter. Junior Zane Eichner added a pick of his own minutes later, and with the ball near midfield and time running out in the first half, it appeared the Bears might be content to head to the locker room up by two scores.
However, the Bears went to the air, with freshman quarterback Wyatt Koskie finding Seekins for a 36-yard completion, setting up Dolores in the red zone. The duo connected again moments later, an 18-yard strike for a touchdown, and with the only two completed passes for Dolores on the night, the Bears roared into halftime up 18-0.
Early in the second half, Whitehorse mounted a rally. Raider quarterback Lanedon Bob found wideout Deondre Benn for a pair of 7-yard touchdown passes midway through the third quarter, closing the gap to 18-12.
Just when it looked like the pressure might get to the Bears, their defense turned up with the stop of the night. With Whitehorse driving in the red zone, the Bears turned the Raiders away on downs to preserve the lead.
Then, on the final play of the third quarter, Cordova broke through the line for a 65-yard scamper to rebuild the lead to 26-12. With momentum on their side, the Bears forced two more Raider turnovers, including Cordova’s second interception of the night, before Seekins sealed the win with a 50-yard punt return for a score.
In his first victory as head coach, Ray Davis heaped praise on his players for their resilience. “They came together as a team,” lauded Davis, “that was the turning point in our season.”
Cordova led the way offensively, grinding out 162 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman Levi Fuller added 58 yards on the ground.
“The line did well getting key blocks,” said Davis of his team’s rushing attack, “then our backs had great vision as well.”
“We put in a whole new offense this past week,” said Cordova. As part of a strong core of juniors, Cordova added that he understands the importance of guiding the younger players to make the adjustment to varsity football. “As the leaders of this team, we trying to get them used to everything, and we felt that we really came together this week.”
The Bears travel to Monument Valley next Friday night for a 7 p.m. meeting with the Cougars.