WINSLOW, Ariz. — The Winslow Bulldogs opened their 2019 season with a 41-21 loss to the always formidable Blue Ridge Yellowjackets at Lakeside Aug. 23.
Both teams were in the playoffs last year and expect to return. As members of the tough 3A East Region, getting there will not be an easy task.
During the game, there was a special stadium dedication honoring the late Paul Moro, the legendary Blue Ridge coach, who had more wins than any coach in history in his division. Moro’s teams won 16 state championships and 27 regional titles.
Many who had coached with him or played for him spoke during half-time.
Blue Ridge took a 14-0 first quarter lead as the Yellowjackets continued the tradition of fielding good, well-coached and competitive football teams.
In the second quarter, the Yellowjackets drove 50 yards and scored when P.J. London passed to the Winslow 1-yeard-line, then ran for the touchdown. The conversion gave Blue Ridge a 21-0 lead.
The Bulldogs rallied and scored in the closing seconds of the first half. Jace Lyons hit a long pass near midfield then hit Canyon Brimhall on the Blue Ridge six. Aiden Kisslingbury ran to the 1-yard-line and Lyons passed to Dylan Sellens for the score. Trevor Cavasos booted the conversion and the half ended with Blue Ridge leading 21-7.
Blue Ridge took the second half kickoff and drove for the touchdown on a 5-yard run by Damon Mitchell. The conversion increased the lead to 28-7. Moments later Jimmy Wallace intercepted a Winslow pass and ran 45 yards for the touchdown and a 34-7 lead after the conversion failed. The third quarter ended with the Yellowjackets with a comfortable lead.
Mason Scott ran 65 yards for a touchdown and Cavasos converted to cut the lead to 34-14 with still over seven minutes left to play.
Blue Ridge drove and scored on a 3-yard run by Mitchell on a fourth down play. The conversion improved the lead to 41-14 with about two and a half minutes to play.
Sonny Wilbanks ran 56 yards for a Winslow touchdown, cutting the lead to 41-21 with two minutes remaining. That was the final score.
The Yellowjackets’ junior varsity edged the Bulldogs’ junior varsity 14-6 in Winslow Aug. 22.
The Bulldogs will play their first home game Aug. 30 against the Monument Valley Mustangs in the Mustangs first game of the season.
The Yellowjackets will host the Alchesay Falcons Aug. 30. Alchesay defeated the Globe Tigers 22-6 Aug. 23 at Whiteriver.
The Snowflake Lobos, Show Low Cougars and Blue Ridge Yellowjackets all picked up significant wins on the first day of the football season. The usually dominant 3A East was down last year, but showed signs of a return to excellence.
The Snowflake Lobos edged a loaded Safford Bulldog team 8-7 with a deciding two-point conversion. The highly anticipated game was played in Safford.
The Payson Longhorns defeated the 3A North defending champion Page Sand Devils 30-20 at Payson, showing that the Longhorns could well be a playoff contender this year.
The Show Low Cougars played out of their conference but defeated the defending 2A State Champion Round Valley Elks 36-18 at Eager. The Elks were favored and this was an important win for Show Low.
It still looks like a tight race for the playoffs, as even in their loss to Blue Ridge, the Winslow Bulldogs played well and could still be a contender.