After a promising display throughout the season, the Holtville Vikings were eliminated from the CIF playoffs in the quarterfinals Nov. 15 in a face off against Mission Bay Senior High School at home.
Both home and away stands featured their fair share of spectators as the game began. The Vikings failed to gain momentum during the first half, scoring no points and allowing two Mission Bay touchdowns, leaving the score 14-0 going into the third quarter.
Despite a slow start, the Vikings ramped up their play and Spencer Hilfiker managed to throw a touchdown pass to Noah Jongeward, although the extra point was missed.
The score was 14-6 going into the fourth when Abraham Ramos caught another touchdown pass from Hilfiker, this time followed by a two-point conversion caught by Jongeward and thrown by CJ Nunez.
The 14-14 tie would be the closest Holtville would come to victory as Mission Bay managed to score one last touchdown during the fourth quarter for a 21-14 win.
“We handled ourselves well against a larger school who also form part of a much larger division,” said Vikings Coach Jason Turner. “We’re slowly learning that we can play ‘up’ and shouldn’t be intimidated.”
He added, “I am very proud of our players and finishing at 8-3 is definitely something to be proud of, especially for our seniors, while also being something to build on for our returning players.”
Regarding next season, Turner said he already has plans in mind to better the team’s performance.
“Looking back, I realize that we could have put in more work in the offseason and we will for next year,” he confirmed. “We will have a championship-caliber roster next year. It will be up to us coaches and players to perform–no excuses.”
The game against Mission Bay marked the final high school performance for many of the team’s roster, a reality the coaching staff has to confront at the end of every season.
“Losing all seniors is always hard,” explained Turner. “We have all spent so much time together and formed life-long bonds. We are a family.”
Turner reminisced about his third year as head coach of the Holtville High School football team.
“It was a year of change. We added some coaches, made changes in our QBs, and continued to pursue a winning culture at all levels that will be sustainable for years to come, with or without me as head coach.”
He added, “We have a lot of room for improvement and it starts with me. I will get better. 2020 will be better.”
This story is featured in the Nov 21, 2019 e-Edition.