by Todd Oberheu
PUEBLO — In an unprecedented year for the 3rd/4th Grade Warrior team, Walsenburg wrapped up their season 10-0 and brought home both the regular season and tournament championship trophies. The Warriors entered the tournament as the top seed and played Vineland for a ticket to the championship game.
The Warriors set the tone on the first play of the game when Grant Oberheu stripped the ball and recovered the fumble. D.J. Van Matre took a handoff on the next series for a 15 yard touchdown. The Warriors never looked back after that. Van Matre scored 3 more touchdowns in the game. Oberheu and Anthony Aldretti each added one for a resulting score of 41-13.
Miguel Sanchez recovered his fourth fumble of the season. Ian Vallejos also recovered a fumble in the game. Wyatt Vigil took over as quarterback in the second half and saw big runs by Tre Quintana and Vallejos. Strong blocking up front by Robert Quintana, David Griego, Miguel Sanchez, Tyler Aguirre, Ty Brooks, A.J. Sandoval, and Francisco Figuero, opened big holes for the running backs. The win advanced the Warriors to the championship game against the North Mesa Tigers.
A large crowd was on hand to watch the Warriors take on North Mesa, previous champions for the last four years. The Tigers, however, came out ready play. The first play from scrimmage saw the Tigers take the ball straight up the middle for a 40 yard touchdown to get on the score board first. The Warriors did not back down. On the Warriors first possession, they maneuvered the ball down the field until Oberheu scored on a 2 yard run. The next possession, Sanchez and Aldretti combined to recover a Tiger fumble. Oberheu outran the defenders to the corner to score on a 24 yard carry to put the Warriors up 13-6. On the ensuing kickoff, Kaden Hampton streaked down the field on the kickoff to recover the kick and give the Warriors great field position on the 20 yard line. Travis McKinzie kept the ball and scored on a 8 yard run to push the score to 19-6.
Wyatt Vigil delivered a vicious blow on the next kickoff to pin the Tigers deep. A near sack by Dylan DiMatteo and Robert Quintana was foiled when the Tiger quarterback was able to break free and take the ball 30 yards for a touchdown. The Warriors returned the favor when Aldretti carried the ball in for another score and took the score to 25-12. North Mesa returned the kickoff, though, for another score. However, the Warriors closed out the scoring in the half and the game when Oberheu dragged a couple of defenders into the endzone for a final score of 32-19.
The second half was strictly a defensive affair, as neither team was able to put points on the board. Figueroa delivered a devastating hit and Aldretti nearly caused a fumble when he pummeled the North Mesa quarterback. Tre Quintana also had a monster hit and nearly recovered the football when the Tigers fumbled the snap.
In the post championship talk by Coach Antone Aldretti, the coaches expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the players, but especially for the parents and the Walsenburg community for their support of the team. The Warriors were coached by Aldretti, Wes Van Matre, Diego Bobian and Leon Medina. Coordinators for the team were Lori Ross and Teresa Medina.
5th/6th grade WARRIORS complete season with win over Rye
by Todd Oberheu
PUEBLO — The Warriors wrapped up their season with a pair of games against the Avondale Apaches and the Rye Thunderbolts. In the first game, the Warriors came out against a motivated Apache team. The Warriors previously beat Avondale in the regular season. However, Avondale started the game strong by scoring on a 14 yard run for the first score of the game. The Warriors were unsuccessful on their first possession, and the Apaches again scored to move the score to 14-0. The Warriors defense stiffened on the next possession, when the entire defensive line, made up of Nikko Vallejos, Jaziah Sandoval, Diayliah Cordova, Tyler Gates, and Bait Neil, crashed through for a safety to make the score 14-2. However, that ended the scoring for the Warriors, as Avondale continued to be successful, both defensively and offensively. The final score in the game was 37-2, Apaches.
The Warriors, needed to have a short memory, as on Sunday they were set to take on their rivals, the Thunderbolts of Rye. If there were any memories of Saturday, they were well-buried at the time of kickoff. The Warriors opened up the game with a 65 yard return of the opening kickoff by Phil Valdez. On Rye’s ensuing possession, Chris McKenna snagged an interception and returned it 40 yards to the 14 yard line. Valdez took a handoff from Santiago Bobian and scooted 14 yards for another score and moved the score to 13-0.
The Warriors defense held tough on the next possession, not allowing Rye to move the ball with any success. Following a Rye punt, Bobian gave the ball to Erminio ‘Bait’ Neil, who rumbled 4 yards for another Warrior score. Again, tough defense, which marked the Warriors entire season, forced a Rye fumble that was recovered by Kyle Gomez. A.J. Van Matre took the ball on the next possession for a 14 yard touchdown. Bobian converted the extra point to move the score to 27-0.
The Warriors offensive and defensive lines had their way with Rye all morning. Led by Cordova, Gates, Sandoval, Vallejos, Ty Quintana, Thomas Hibpshman, the Warriors dominated the point of contact throughout the game. After forcing the T-Bolts to turn the ball over on downs, Gabriel Romero scored his first career touchdown. McKenna converted the extra point to move the score to 34-0. Neil recovered a fumble in the 3rd quarter and the Warriors never looked back as they stormed to the finish with a dominating victory. The Warriors finished the season 4th in league play and 5th in tournament play.
Coach Joe Hipbshman expressed his appreciation for the hard work of the kids throughout the season. He also thanked the parents and other coaches. The Warriors were coached by Hibpshman, David Harriman, Santiago Bobian, David Roel, and Kevin Vallejos. Mark Gomez served as coordinator.