Trailing 30-33, the Rams forced and recovered a Murrieta Valley fumble with a minute to go and was poised to finish off the Nighthawks on their final drive.
It was not to be: an interception on the Nighthawk 26 ended Mesa’s quest for its first Southwestern League victory last week.
Undaunted, Coach Justin Schaeffer takes his 5-2 Rams to Temecula Valley to play Pat McGowan’s Golden Bears Friday night. The Bears are 1-6 and are coming off a 42-6 thrashing from Chaparral. The Rams, ranked 20th in their division by CIF Southern Section are hungry for a win.
Temecula Valley averages 26 points per game. The Bears' offense is pretty balanced as they run for 177 yards and pass for 183 yards a game.
TV Quarterback Kyle Plantier has four favorite targets. Griffin Doran leads the Bear receivers with 26 catches for 365 yards while Derrick Hooks, Andre Armstong and Brock Dudley have combined for 50 receptions.
Seniors Brendon Marchand and Ryan Smith make up the bulk of Temecula Valley’s running game.
As everyone knows, the Ram offense can change the game in a “Murrieta Minute." Chase Chambers is an all-league quarterback who can put numbers on the board quickly—all night long. Parker Erickson is Chambers’ backup and may see action at QB due to injuries Chambers has suffered over the past two games.
Erickson had an exceptional game against the Nighthawks guiding an explosive running game that took Murrieta Valley by surprise.
Senior Khalil Sharpe leads the Rams' prolific air attack. He will be flanked by Mesa’s other talented receivers Gilbert Toves, Daniel Castro and Erickson.
Coach Schaeffer recognized Toves, who had two touchdown receptions, and offensive lineman Ruben Meza as the Rams' co-offensive Players of the Game against Murrieta Valley.
Also recognized by Coach Schaeffer were kicker Luke Hutchinson for special teams and Chandler Woodward for defense.
Meza was a key reason that the Rams ran the ball so well, gaining over 200 yards last week against Murrieta Valley’s tough defense. Mesa’s workhorses on the ground are Kyler Vasquez and Israel Alfaro.
No longer is Murrieta Mesa defensive unit underrated. This team can play defense. Ram defensive leaders are senior linebackers Clayton Willis and Dallin Inman.
Woodward, Nick Tejada, Bryson Bridges, Garrett Andrews, Wesley Scott, Davian Neitz, Alec Salcedo, Dylan McDonald and Billy Montoya round out the rest of the Ram defensive starters.
Game time for the Rams is 7 p.m. at Temecula Valley High School. Pack up the kids and get to the stadium early because you won't want to miss this game. Murrieta Mesa looks to beat the Golden Bears and bring home it’s first league win.