It’s been six years since the Maxwell Panthers and Williams Yellowjackets squared off on the football field and just as that contest ended in the ‘Jackets favor, so did the meeting between the two last Thursday night in Maxwell.
In the second game of the season for both squads, the Williams defense ramped up the pressure against the young Panthers to come away with a 29-6 win, its first of the season.
At the outset, it looked as though the ‘Jackets would have an easy time of it as they took the opening kickoff and methodically marched down the field in a 13 play drive that ended with Gerry Gomez taking the ball eight yards to the end zone.
When Jayr Ramirez added the two-point conversion, Williams jumped out to an 8-0 lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the quarter.
After several series of three and outs, the Yellowjackets looked to be putting together another sustained drive, when their quarterback, Sam Lopez went down with an ankle injury and would not return.
Replacing Lopez was Omar Lomeli who immediately moved the ‘Jackets to the Panther 30, however, at that juncture, Maxwell’s Wyatt Hendrix stepped in front of the intended receiver and picked off a pass that he would return 70 yards for a touchdown as time expired in the first period and making the score 8-6.
Throughout much of the second quarter, the game was played in the middle of the field as the two teams were hampered by penalties and struggled to move the ball, especially through the air, although with just over a minute and a half to play in the half, the Yellowjacket defense took matters into its own hands.
With Maxwell starting deep in their own territory but trying to get something going, Williams’ Ramirez intercepted a pass on the first play of the drive and returned it 14 yards for a touchdown.
Miguel Rivera tacked on the two-point conversion, but there was still plenty of time left for Maxwell who started in a good position at their own 38, yet once again the ‘Jacket defense intervened this time with Enrique Garcia making the interception.
While the Yellowjackets could not capitalize, they were able to take a 16-6 lead into intermission and hold that advantage until the fourth quarter when they would break the game open after Lomeli scored on a three-yard keeper and Rivera turned in the second pick-six of the night.
Williams coach Jeff Lemus was pleased to see improvement in his team’s second game saying, “We were much more consistent than we were last week although we still have a long way to go. I’m just happy for our guys and it was nice being able to get them all into the game.”
Lemus also pointed specifically to the play of Ramirez, who turned in a strong effort on both sides of the ball along with that of Lorenzo Ruvalcaba who made the move from safety to linebacker and played a significant role collecting a team-high six tackles.
This change in positioning aided reigning NSCIF sack leader Angel Juarez in adding four more to his current season total.
Credit also goes to Lomeli who stepped in and despite getting half the reps in practice made his first varsity debut at quarterback completing 15-28 passes for 168 yards.
Another noteworthy performance for the Yellowjackets from Rivera who made seven catches for 121 yards in addition to his interception return for a touchdown.
It was a long night for the Panthers who started a large number of underclassmen and are in the midst of learning a new system, yet much of what went wrong can be corrected, as Coach Lane Davis explained, “We’re young, and actually started two freshman tonight, but we’re building. We are going to mature, both assignment and intensity-wise as we move ahead. We have only four seniors, but our sophomore class is loaded and our juniors are pretty good as well, so absolutely there is potential.”
Davis also confirmed another piece of exciting news for Maxwell in that increased interest will allow them to have a JV program next season.
Williams (1-1) is back at it this week when it heads to Biggs to take on the formidable Wolverines while Maxwell (0-2) is uncertain as to whether or not it will have a game given the COVID restrictions which only permit play between teams from bordering counties.