Following their five-hour Friday drive deep into the sprawling heart of the “Inland Empire” — east of Fontana and somewhere west of the moon — the Broncos faced off against a hard-hitting, high-powered offensive team on an bumpy, poorly lighted gridiron.
Add to those challenges the fact that a few Bloomington Christian fans in this funky facility with no bleachers stood behind the Coast Union bench offering some un-Christian-like heckling — and toss in the fact that for the first time in this undefeated season Coast Union trailed after the first quarter (Ravens 16, Broncos 8) — it was a steep hill for the Broncos to climb.
But Coast Union evened the score (16-16) on their first drive in the second quarter as Nolan Baldwin hit Emmany Godinez with a pass in the end zone and Baldwin, who scored Coast Union’s first touchdown, dove over for the two-point conversion.
With the score knotted with two good teams grinding it out, the game seemed to be up in the air, which is exactly where the broadcast crew was located — 20 or so feet high on the roof of a school equipment trailer overlooking the rag-tag field.
Challenging conditions notwithstanding, Coast Union put on a positive show; they went into the second half leading 30-16 and closed things out with a 36-24 win.
The shining stars of football — players that get most of the attention — are usually on the offensive side of the ball. In this game, there were several of those: Baldwin, who scored three touchdowns and ran 18 times for 104 yards; Godinez, who gathered in two TD passes and gained 122 total receiving yards; Alex Bautista, who gained 63 yards on 11 carries; and Austin Eide, who scored a TD and a two-point conversion.
That said, there were sparkling plays by guys in the trenches, notably Grant Magnuson, who played a huge role in the victory. “Grant probably weighs 250 pounds and throughout the game he was man-handling a 350-pound nose guard a good foot taller than him,” according to Steve Spisak on the KMGQ-FM broadcast team.
“Grant protected our quarterback and was opening up huge holes for our running backs. On defense, he was catching their running backs behind the line of scrimmage. He was a man possessed out there,” Spisak explained.
Meanwhile freshman Lane Sutherland “made some unbelievable tackles and put so much pressure on their quarterback — had it not been for Lane, I think we might have lost the game,” Spisak continued. “He stopped a couple runs that could have gone for huge gainers or touchdowns.”
In addition to Magnuson’s six tackles and his fumble recovery, and Sutherland’s aggressive, clutch play, the entire defensive unit played robust football when it counted most, including the closing minutes when the Ravens were desperately trying to get into the end zone.
The 6-0 Broncos travel to Santa Barbara to play Condor League opponent Laguna Blanca High School at 2 p.m Saturday, Oct. 13. The game will be heard on KMGQ-FM 103.5 and streams live on www.ktea-fm.com.