Suffering injuries is always an ominous way to start a season, but Maxwell High School’s varsity football team persevered Friday night against visiting Woodland Christian, scoring a pair of second-half touchdowns in a 38-14 defeat.
Trailing 24-0 at halftime, the Panthers had leading tackler Tim Kromis in a sling (elbow contusion), and quarterback Ulises Rolon was sidelined with a possible concussion.
Sophomore Trent Hendrix, in uniform mostly because the JV didn’t have a game on their schedule, began taking the snaps in the second half.
Hendrix revived the Panthers with a 62-yard pass to Tony Ambriz in the third quarter that led to their first touchdown, a 2-yard dive by senior fullback Cody Polit.
Ambriz would not be denied the end zone on his next catch, a 46-yarder from Hendrix, as he broke a tackle around the 5-yard line to score in the fourth quarter. Junior runningback Rudy Gutierrez, who led the rushing attack with 12 carries for 35 yards, plunged over the goal line afterward for a two-point conversion.
Maxwell head coach Russ Jones was pleased to see his Panthers rally after the early setbacks.
“When you’ve only got 16 players, have to bring up four from JV, and two starters get hurt, you do your best to mitigate,” Jones said. “Clearly, we were outmanned after that. We were forced into the fire, but these boys played hard and never hung their heads.”
Hendrix finished 4-for-8 in passing, totaling 119 yards. He connected with Cody Pearson on back-to-back quick tosses (third and fourth down) to extend Ambriz’s scoring drive.
Kromis and senior Lance Gwinnup teamed up for a quarterback sack on defense, Kromis finished with a team-leading 10 tackles despite missing half the game, and Nick Azevedo dropped seven Cardinal ballcarriers.
The “hit of the night” belonged to senior Jake Sutton, however, whose helmet met a Cardinal near the sideline for a crack that thundered throughout Colusa County.
Woodland Christian took advantage of turnovers on Maxwell’s first two possessions for a 14-0 lead. Though the Cardinals lost one fumble to a Panther horde, which set up Polit’s scoring drive, Maxwell coughed up the football five times.
The Cardinals offense outpaced Maxwell’s with 308 yards to 179. Cardinals quarterback Eric Wyatt put Woodland Christian on the board less than five minutes into the contest with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Hiett. Wyatt and runningback Cooper Johnson rushed for two touchdowns apiece and Roman Ochoa booted a field goal and five extra-point kicks.
Maxwell (0-1) has a bye Labor Day weekend. The Panthers will return to their home gridiron on Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. versus Foresthill; meanwhile, the JV will play at 5 p.m. in Quincy for their season opener. ■