Following Friday night’s 42-9 loss to Walden Grove at home, Rio Rico head coach Kevin Kuhm acknowledged he would have liked to have seen a closer score.
Pointing across the field to the sideline where Walden Grove had previously been, Kuhm said: “That's a really good football team, it's a playoff football team, Walden Grove, and I'm just really proud of our kids for competing and playing from start to finish.”
Kuhm referred to Friday night’s game as a “measuring stick.”
“We're just going one step at a time. We're trying to build something here like Walden Grove has. They've done a really, really good job of building their program, developing their players and that's what we're trying to do,” Kuhm said. “It's not going to happen overnight. We live in a society where everyone wants quick results, but we want lasting results. They are the reigning region champs and so that's a measuring stick.”
He pointed out that it took Walden Grove, now 5-1, a while to get where they’re at. It will take the Hawks a while, too.
The Red Wolves lit up the scoreboard on their opening drive. Quarterback Alex Lopez completed six straight passes to move the Red Wolves 65 yards down the field before he carried the ball over from three yards out. A successful PAT set the score at 7-0 at the 5:53 mark.
Walden Grove added to its lead with 1:58 left in the first quarter when Lopez connected with wide receiver Hector Najar for 15 yards. With a successful PAT, the score became 14-0.
The Red Wolves used their air attack once again to score early in the second quarter when Lopez connected with twin brother Jordan for a 26-yard touchdown strike.
Rio Rico was finally able to gain some significant yards when Hawks senior running back Robert Villegas ripped through the Red Wolves defense for 65 yards and Rio Rico’s only touchdown on the night. Sophomore Gabriel Romero-Davis added the successful PAT to make it 21-7.
WGHS scored on the next series and it was 28-7 at halftime.
The Red Wolves scored midway through the third quarter on a five-yard touchdown pass. Then on the second play of the next Hawks’ possession, they fumbled the ball and Jordan Lopez picked it up for a “grab and go” dash to the endzone. Result: 42-7.
Rio Rico picked up its final two points of the contest when, deep in their own territory, Walden Grove tried to punt. However, a high snap went over the head of punter Ryan Brady and sailed into the Red Wolves’ endzone. Rather than allowing Rio Rico to recover the ball in the endzone for six points, Brady fell on the ball allowing the Hawks two points for the safety. Final score: 42-9.
Kuhm said the Hawks made it through Friday night’s game with no injuries, adding: “We're healthy going into the last four games which is a blessing.”
The Hawks, now 2-4 in the regular season, play their next two games at Amphitheater and Palo Verde high schools in Tucson. Both are 3-3 this season.
“Those are programs that are going through the same things we're going through right now and so it's going to be a true test of how far we've come,” he said.
The final two games of the season include the 2019 Homecoming game against Pueblo on Oct. 25 and Douglas on Nov. 1.