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Skyridge football battles hard for victory over East

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In an exhilarating Friday night showdown, the Skyridge football team emerged triumphant with a 48-23 win in an offensive battle against the Leopards of East High School.

After a slow start in the first quarter and the Leopards scoring with a 23-yard field goal kicked by Luca Viana, the Falcon explosive offense blew up the scoreboard in the second quarter with three touchdowns and maintained that momentum for the rest of the night.

The Skyridge offensive attack was led by senior quarterbackJackson Stevens connecting with senior receiver Trent Call for a 36-yard score, followed by senior running back Carter Sheffield’s two short-distance rushing touchdowns.

The offense was hampered by the loss of junior tackle Ben Howard, who was injured during the pre-game warmup. Junior Isaac Westover stepped in admirably, filling Howard’s big shoes and thereby providing protection for Stevens and stabilizing the offensive output.

“We prepared for the challenges of this game,” said senior receiver La’a Kalama. “One of our O-lineman went down during warmups and it was a tough start to the game.

“We started out slow but overcame the adversity,” he continued. “We picked it up and we were able to win. We gave a good effort tonight, but we were sloppy at times. We need to clean up some stuff and practice hard, stick to our fundamentals and we will be ready for next week.”

The third quarter was a battle for points as both teams posted two touchdowns. Sheffield scored on a 12-yard screen pass and senior receiver Trevan McClellan scored on a 74-yard catch and run from Stevens.

The Falcons continued their offensive dominance in the fourth quarter with a 17-yard pass to Kalama and a 23-yard run by sophomore quarterback Kaneal Sweetwyne.

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Kalama and McClellan proved invaluable on the offense with catches for big gains and Sheffield dominated the field with powerful runs to keep the Leopard defense on their toes and scrambling all over the field.

McClellan said, “I feel like we had a good game even though we started off really slow tonight. We have a lot of work to do if we want to get anything done this season.

“We practiced catching all week and planned on taking a lot of shots tonight. Our running backs kept fighting through the line and we caught most of the balls. I feel like our O-line stepped it up and played hard even with a challenging injury,” the player added.

The Falcon defense pressured the East quarterbacks throughout the game in both their run and ground schemes. Junior linebacker Deshawn Toilolo registered three sacks and senior defensive lineman Ian Mariner provided a stout run defense and constant pressure on the opposite side of the line.

“East came out and played hard, setting the tone,” said SkyridgeHead Coach Justin Hemm. “We came out a little flat and got ourselves in a tough game. We started to get our flow in the second half, but still we had ups and downs all night.

“The game did not go smoothly, and we expect that the games will not go perfect, but these guys had to dig themselves out tonight and fight to get the job done, that was great to watch,” he went on. “East played a great game. They are a well-coached team who made it difficult to win tonight.”

Stevens finished by completing 18-of-31 for 331 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. Sheffield had 13 carries for 59 yards and also made three catches for 31 yards.

McClellan picked up 148 yards with five receptions and Kalama added four catches for 53 yards. Junior kicker Blake Hester made six PATs. Junior linebacker Deshawn Toilolo and senior linebacker Tobin Smith led the defense with six tackles apiece.

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Skyridge’s well-rounded performance secured their victory, showcasing their competence on both sides of the ball.

The Falcons will meet the Phoenix of Farmington on the road this Friday (Aug. 25) with a 7 p.m. kickoff.

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