Before Eldorado took the field Friday night, coach Robert Cutts reminded his team that the fight to make the playoffs was just beginning.
While the Sundevils lost their first four games of the season, only their Northwest League matchups will count come playoff time.
His team got the message, and defeating Rancho 48-8 on the opening night of league play
“Starting 0-4, everyone starts to get those self-doubts,” Cutts said. “To come out this first league game and win by 40 points, it’s really a testament that we belong here. We’re not just a pushover.”
Eldorado (1-4, 1-0 Northwest) jumped out of the gates and scored on its first three possessions to take a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
After Heber Juarez got them on the board with a 3-yard touchdown run, the Sundevils took advantage of a pair of Rancho special teams mishaps to set the tone early. A bad snap on a Rams punt attempt gave Eldorado the ball at the 5-yard line midway through the first quarter, and Michael Perez scored on a 2-yard rushing touchdown two plays later.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Sundevils recovered another fumble at the Rams’ 37-yard line. Quarterback Jaime Rangel capped off the resulting three-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
“I was very impressed with the way we were able to move the ball,” Rangel said. “We were pretty consistent in our runs and our passes, so I was proud that we didn’t get stopped too much.”
Rangel was happy to see the offense score some points, and gave most of the credit to the offensive line.
“After last week, it was a wakeup call that we need to pick up blitzes better,” he said. “I was more comfortable today knowing that we could identify those blitzes and stop them.”
Rangel threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran for another score in the second half. He finished 12 of 22 passing for 150 yards.
Rancho quarterback Jonathan Gunter threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Alberto Garcia for the Rams’ lone score.
Gunter led all rushers with 122 yards, but he Sundevils kept the Rams in check for most of the night. Rancho (0-5, 0-1) only completed two passes in the game.
“I liked that we didn’t give up once we got ahead,” Cutts said. “We really had a monkey on our back today, and with the first league game, it’s so important to get that momentum going.”