This season, which marks the 20th anniversary of ECYF, the Pee Wee team became the first in the organization’s history to go undefeated into the Turkey Bowl and win it.
The Lions faced the No. 1 seeded Falcons, who had dominated every team they had faced this season. But this was not the Falcons’ day.
The Falcons struck first, scoring on their first possession to go up 7-0. It was the first time all season the Lions had fallen behind. Ronnie Rivers made sure the lead didn’t last as he picked up the onside kick attempt and took it back for a touchdown.
After the Lions forced the Falcons to punt, the Lions pulled off a stunning fake punt as Rivers completed a pass to Devan Lance down to the 3-yard line. Rivers punched it in for the touchdown.
The Lions defense forced a fumble that was recovered by Cole Zanarini, allowing the Lions offensive line of Devin Walden, Harlan Rashada, Joseph Guaragna, Richie Kabasinskas, Abel Page and Adrian Guitron to open a crease up the middle that Rivers rode to another TD, putting the Lions up 18-7.
With 20 seconds left in the first half, the Falcons returned a kickoff for a touchdown to pull within 18-15 and steal some of the Lions’ momentum. Coming out of the half, the Lions’ special-teams unit made a huge play, as Abel Ordaz executed a perfect onside kick that was recovered by Zion Millington. Ordaz then hit Baylei Coston with a long touchdown pass and the Lions’ killer instinct took over.
The Lions used trickery on their next possession, as Ordaz pitched the ball to Rivers, who threw it back to Ordaz. The QB raced to the end zone to put the game out of reach.
Coming into the game, the high-powered Falcons offense had scored 418 points, but the Lions defense mauled them all day, allowing only an early touchdown. The Lions defense then tightened up and stopped the Falcons offense the rest of the game. The Lions D finished the season as the No. 1 ranked defense, allowing only 27 points in 12 games.
The Lions advance the Interconference Championship game on Saturday against the North Bay Youth Football Pee Wee champions, the Ukiah Lions.
– Contributed by Ingrid Gregerson