By Gary Montgomery
It seemed to be a curious move when Martin Luther King school officials decided to turn Friday night lights into Saturday night lights by foregoing the opportunity to play a road game at their home stadium. How would they do that you ask? Poly plays its home games at King’s on campus stadium which would have allowed King to be at home when they were officially the visiting team.
Although seemingly curious, they must have known something others didn’t. Traffic stopped four blocks from the stadium and at kickoff time there were hundreds of fans in line hoping to get into the game.
The two teams filled Ramona’s stadium to overflow capacity with fans still trying to get in all the way up to halftime and some.
In the early going it appeared that Poly would make it a short night’s work. Led by the elusive scrambling of senior quarterback Chandler Drachslin, Riverside Poly (3-0) jumped out to a fast start and amassed a 10-0 first quarter lead. King (1-2) got on the board with 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter when quarterback Karson Greeley scampered 8-yards to get the Wolves within 4 at 10-6 after missing the PAT.
Poly’s Kyle Avery kicked field goals of 22 and 37 yards to expand the Bears lead to 16-6 after one half of play.
The two teams played back and forth most of the third quarter with neither able to sustain a scoring drive until Poly found themselves pinned inside their own 10-yard line. That’s when Coach Dennis Brown went to his bag of tricks. Brown inserted backup quarterback Alexander Lewis to run a double reverse. King defenders blew up the play when Ben Garcia slapped the ball out of Lewis’ hand and Zack Adcock pounced on it for a King defensive touchdown bringing the score to 13-16 and changing the momentum completely.
“That was just a horrible coaching call. I almost cost us the game but the kids bailed me out,” admitted a bluntly honest head coach Dennis Brown. “That was horrible. We had wanted to get into that set and I called (the play) it. It was a dumb thing to do at that point in the game and I am lucky it didn’t cost us the game.”
After a Poly turnover, King’s Karson Greeley struck again, flinging a 30-yard touchdown pass to his twin brother Kade to put King on top 20-16 and igniting a frenzy on the King side of the field. The student body quickly started chanting “we can’t hear you” to the suddenly quiet Poly faithful.
With momentum firmly on their side it appeared that King would steal the win, ruin Coach Brown’s week and knock Poly from the unbeaten ranks. But, King shanked a punt and gave Poly the ball on their 37-yard line with a little over 2 minutes remaining in the game.
That’s when Poly’s Devontre Hale went to work. Hale, the Inland Valley Divisions’ fifth leading rusher had 6 carries in the drive and the Bears quickly moved the ball inside to the 4-yard line. Facing fourth down and the game on the line Hale found a seam up the middle and darted into the in zone giving Poly the lead back with only 40 seconds left on the clock.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. We were ready for that,” said Hale. “I just wanted to make the play. I knew I could get in.” Hale entered the game with a total 306-yards rushing in his first two games.
Poly goes to 3-0 and is one of only 5 unbeaten teams in the Inland Valley Division. The Bears will meet Rubidoux at home next week to try and extend their winning streak.
Gary Montgomery can be reached at email@example.com