Palo Verde Football is back with a bang! More fans than ever fill the stands both home and away, leading to excitement around both the school and the game. If you go to Palo for school, there was a very high chance that someone you knew went, as a ridiculous amount of tickets were sold. Even students from other schools with no implications in the game showed up, just looking for any games to experience the excitement of high school football.
Palo Verde Varsity Football Coach Joe Aznarez said, “It is great to be back under somewhat normal conditions. There is nothing better than Friday night lights for the players, students, coaches and fans.”
The line to get into the game was absolutely wild, pushing all the way back to the stairs, causing a lot of people, including myself, to miss the first drive of the game. Because of all the people and high tensions, police had even showed up later at the game because of a (false) phone call about a gun. In the end, luckily, everything was okay, and the game was able to go by smoothly without much trouble.
Calvin Levy, senior TE and co-captain said, “It’s surreal, half of these kids in high school haven’t experienced what it’s like to experience an actual high school football game. People are definitely looking forward to [the games]. The atmosphere is different from what it used to be. There is an engaged crowd like never before with all the new chants and all the posters and signs, and even the themes that people dress out for. The students and fans are definitely not taking high school for granted as much as they used to.”
Sadly for Palo Verde, the game was lost by a rather large margin, as Desert Pines, led by Javonte Barnes (a four-star highly recruited athlete), won 38-14. Some players on Palo were able to shine despite this, showing promise for the future season ahead. Of course, the point of interest about this game was that fans were allowed back in the stands, bringing an important aspect of the game back to the players and coaches.
Desert Pines being one of the better teams in the city as many players on their team are ranked nationally and are being recruited, was a tough matchup for Palo, probably one of the toughest of the season. The star of their team, Javonte, is being recruited by a lot of the top football schools in the nation such as Alabama, Oklahoma, USC, and Florida State, which could tell you all you need to know about the caliber of players on this team. Barnes, being their best player, ended up rushing for not one, not two, but three touchdowns, almost four if he didn’t make a mistake and fumble out of the back of the end zone early in the game. Desert Pines’ defense was also stellar throughout, as they held Palo to zero points until late in the third quarter.
This is not to say Palo’s game was a failure. For example, throughout the game they had 99 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns, one late in the third and one in the 4th. Paisley Nickelson ended up with 65 rushing yards and a touchdown, although he did fumble late in the game. Edward Rhambo also had a touchdown, and one of the more exciting ones of the game as he returned a 90 yard kickoff all the way to the end zone. To add onto this he also had an interception, so for him this was a great outing.
The same could not be said for the passing department though, as only 24 yards were gained through the air. It was extremely difficult for the quarterbacks though, as there was pressure in their faces almost every time, forcing them to get rid of the ball quickly and not let the routes develop. Also Palo Verde mainly has a running offense, so the run game is what normally excels.
In the end, Palo for the most part put up a great fight against one of the best teams in the state, forcing some turnovers, and scoring some touchdowns late in the game that they can build on in the next game and throughout the season.
Although the team lost, players and coaches were happy to have the fans back after a full school year without them.