Sep. 17—Two teams in different stages of rebuilding met on the gridiron Friday night, and although their respective coaches are seeing progress, host Foothill proved to be a bit further along in the process than Rosamond.
The Trojans, who lost 17 seniors from last year's Southeast Yosemite League champion — the school's first football league title since 1981 — opened the season with just four players with varsity experience, according to fifth-year head coach Brandon Deckard.
The inexperience showed with an 0-3 start to the season, including two shutout losses. But after a victory over California City last week, the Trojans continued to showcase their progression on Friday night.
Foothill scored three short rushing touchdowns in the first half, and then added another late in the third quarter, and plodded its way to a 28-0 victory on Homecoming night at Ned Permenter Field.
"We battled the whole way through," Deckard said. "From where we started four or five weeks ago to where we are now, is a huge improvement, and I'm just very proud of the kids for pulling it off on Homecoming."
Darrion Rodriguez rushed for a team-high 69 yards on seven carries, and Elias Trevino added 42 yards and two scores to lead the way for the Trojans (2-3), who have combined to outscore their last two opponents 64-13 since a 27-0 home loss to Porterville in Week 3.
Nine different players carried the ball for Foothill, with Deckard inserting many of his reserves for most of the fourth quarter.
"We lost 17 seniors from a league championship team, and you know, that's hard to recover from," Deckard said. "And we have a lot of green kids. They've worked very hard to get to this point. ... So the progression is just tremendous right now. And we're going to continue to get better as the season goes on."
The Roadrunners (1-4) have struggled to find success in recent years, and haven't won more than three games in a season since going 11-2 and reaching the Central Section Division VI championship game in 2017.
After losing its first three games this season, the team made a coaching change, bringing back Rosamond native Kenny Price, who coached at the school 20 years ago before moving on to Desert and then to Crescent City until 2019.
"We're moving in the right direction," Price said. "We are. We're super athletic, we're pretty good up front, but some of the knowledge and some of the little techniques, small things, we're really going to try to tidy up and clean up. Once we get that, it will be pretty dang good."
In Price's debut last week, the Roadrunners rushed for nearly 500 yards in a 53-19 victory over Acton-Vasquez.
But things moved much slower on Friday. Rosamond had more penalty yards in the first half (49) than yards from scrimmage (38). The team's leading rusher Jordyn Bowers (five carries for 32 yards) left at halftime with flu-like symptoms. Bowers also had an interception.
Things improved in the second half for Rosamond, which moved the ball across midfield on two of its three possessions, and limited Foothill to just seven points. Tristan Sowell finished with a team-high 58 yards rushing on 15 carries.
"The second half we obviously played a lot better," Price said. "We cleaned up some stuff from the first half. We just came out and got shocked. And when you get shocked, it's hard to get them back sometimes."
Things also looked promising at the start when Tristan Sowell took the opening handoff 65 yards before being tackled deep in Trojan territory. But Rosamond was whistled for holding to nullify the run, and the team had trouble moving the ball the rest of the half, suffering through a pair of bad snaps, back-breaking penalties and three turnovers that gave Foothill good field position most of the night.
The Trojans scored on each of its first three possessions, capitalizing on a 15-yard punt to start their opening drive on the Rosamond 25. Six plays later, Nathaniel Alvarez scored on a 1-yard run with 5:59 left in the first quarter.
Then after a Roadrunner fumble at their own 47 — recovered by Foothill's Ramiro Avila — Elias Trevino capped an 8-play drive with a 6-yard scoring run to make it 14-0 with 41 seconds left in the opening quarter. Later, he capped the scoring with an 8-yard touchdown with 1:27 left in the third quarter.
Quarterback Joel Trevino scored on a 1-yard keeper to make it 21-0 with 6:05 left in the first half.
The Roadrunners had their best chances to score in the closing seconds of the first half and again in the fourth quarter, but were intercepted each time, first by Carson Parra and then by Eduardo Sanchez with 28 seconds left in the game.
"We're going in the right direction," Deckard said. "So we'll just keep putting the work in and keep putting the time in, and hopefully by the end of the season we'll be a lot better than we are now."