With just 24 players available for Friday’s season finale, the Hall football team was overmatched by Rockridge.
The Red Devil offense couldn’t get going in the first half, while the Rockets exploded for big play after big play in a 56-31 running-clock victory in a Three Rivers Conference crossover at Nesti Stadium in Spring Valley.
“It’s a good team and we did what we could,” Hall coach Nick Guerrini said. “We ended up the season with 24 kids top to bottom in the program. We battled as best we could. Sometimes, it’s disheartening when you look across and they have more subs than we have in the program, but I think our kids battled. Our younger kids who got opportunities to play this year who normally wouldn’t have are going to take this with them for the next two or three years.”
Hall went three-and-out on its first drive, and Rockridge immediately struck, as Brayden Deem connected with Nate Henry for a 61-yard touchdown pass on the Rockets’ first play.
The Rockets scored on seven of their eight first-half drives, with the lone exception being when they took over with 7.5 seconds left in the half.
Rockridge needed six plays or fewer to score on all seven of those drives, and twice scored on its first play.
Peyton Locke ran for a 9-yard TD, Deem threw a 64-yard TD strike to Locke, Deem hooked up with Jenson Whiteman for a 6-yard TD, Locke raced for a 56-yard score, Deem tossed a 4-yard touchdown to Wyatt Rudsell, and Deem connected with Locke for a 46-yard scoring strike as the Rockets built a 49-10 halftime lead.
“Really, we just have targets everywhere,” said Locke, who has scored 10 TDs the last two weeks. “We have a great quarterback. We have some good weapons and we have an amazing line. They can do both [run block and pass block] very, very well.”
The Rockets (5-0) finished with eight plays of 20 yards or more and racked up 551 yards on 42 plays, an average of 13 yards per play.
Locke finished with 124 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and two catches for 110 yards and two TDs, while Deem completed 9 of 16 passes for 252 yards and six touchdowns.
“They’re athletic kids,” Guerrini said. “They have some speed on the ends. Their quarterback is smart. He makes good reads. The other big thing is we didn’t get any pressure on him. When you give a quarterback 10 seconds back there to throw the ball, it’s hard for the defensive backs to cover that long.”
After scoring on a 59-yard pass from Gabe Lucas to Mac Resetich and a 35-yard field goal from Hunter Hernandez in the first half, the Red Devils managed three scores in the second half.
Lucas threw a 54-yard TD pass to Dominic Guerrini on Hall’s second play of the third quarter, Guerrini broke free for a 21-yard TD run, and Jose Castro punched in a 4-yard TD run.
“We were just trying to mix it up and see what they were giving us,” coach Guerrini said. “They keyed on a couple guys, so we decided to try to take advantage of it and it worked out. We got some points on the board. The biggest thing is these guys didn’t give up. They came out in the second half and wanted to work through it, so we did.”
With a young roster, coach Guerrini hopes the Red Devils (1-4) can build off the experience in the fall season.
“For these young kids, [this season] was basically a tryout,” Nick Guerrini said. “This was a season they probably wouldn’t have played the last couple years when we had a full squad. A lot of freshmen and sophomores got a lot of playing time. They have full careers ahead of them.
“[Playing varsity as underclassmen] takes the edge off, but it gives them a reality check too. They know what level they need to be at and know what they need to work for. We have a lot of kids already talking about the weight room next week and wanting to get back at it. This could have been a disheartening season for what we ended up, but they’re wanting to get back at it right away.”