With 11 seconds remaining in the first half of Friday night’s game in Roseville between Woodcreek High School and visiting Monterey Trail, Mustangs coach T.J Ewing had a decision to make.
His team led by a touchdown and was pinned back on its 20-yard line. Instead of kneeling out the clock, Ewing trusted senior running back Chris Lands to make a play.
Lands did just that — bursting up the middle, then cutting back down the Woodcreek sideline for an 80-yard touchdown to end the half in dramatic fashion. That was the momentum-changer in No. 3-ranked Monterey Trail’s 34-7 victory.
Monterey Trail never looked back after Woodcreek senior Cooper Young took the opening kickoff 96-yards for a touchdown.
“Chris (Lands) is a very good football player,” Ewing said. “The line opened up the hole and he had to make plays in space and guys were blocking for him. We like that play and we randomly run it every so often. (Our team) has scored many touchdowns on that play in the past. That was one of maybe five times in our history that (the play) worked.”
This game wasn’t official happening until the middle of the week. Woodcreek was scheduled to play crosstown rival Roseville High, but the game was canceled due to COVID-19 issues with the Tigers. Monterey Trail was supposed to play Rocklin, but Del Oro was able to get that game back after COVID-19 issues within its program last week.
Ewing and Woodcreek coach Brad Hunkins got on the phone to work out a plan.
“There were a lot of teams (in our area) that were supposed to play last week but couldn’t get a game in,” Ewing said. “The Woodcreek coach stuck his hand out and (offered to play). That was huge because we needed to play somebody.”
Ewing added, “Adapt or go away. We’re trying to adapt and not go away. We think it’s important for our kids to have the opportunity to do events like this in high school. We’re going to be committed to our kids every day as long as we’re safe in a safe environment.”
Lands led the Mustangs with 113 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He wasn’t the only Mustang running back making plays. Senior running back Otha Williams and junior running back Ronnie Brutus both had short-yardage touchdowns. Monterey Trail junior quarterback Frank Arcuri in his first varsity start had touchdown runs of one and 9-yards and completed two passes to wide receiver Jamauri Jackson for 77 yards.
Arcuri has been familiar with the Mustangs program for as long as he can remember. His dad, Rick, is Ewings’ right-hand man and his offensive coordinator.
“He’s been around the system his whole life,” Ewing said. “He’s played in our youth program and his dad is the offensive coordinator, so he knows this system like the back of his hand.”
The Mustangs offensive line made up of Andreas Argumedo, Xavier Powell, Melikai Red, Andre Royster, Uvante Usher and tight end Fatafehi Puloka. The group allowed one sack. On the Mustangs defensive line, Brevin Amiga, Jasdev Banwait, Red, Thaddues Singleton and Alonzo Your all had sacks.
“It’s a great O-line,” Arcuri the quarterback said. “This is probably the best offensive line I’ve ever played with. They make every block and they’re always solid on everything.”
Monterey Trail star running back and cornerback Prophet Brown did not play Friday night and it’s unclear whether the USC-bound recruit will play this spring. He was on the sideline Friday night, coaching up players and helping his quarterback warm up.
“He’s eligible to play any week he wants to play,” Ewing said of Brown. “It’s all up to him. We told him the door is open and either way we understand if he plays or not. If he wants to play, he’s more than welcome, but without having playoffs or championships and that kind of stuff (these games) are kind of like glorified scrimmages.”
Monterey Trail will travel to Concord to play Bay Area powerhouse Clayton Valley Charter next Saturday. Woodcreek will host Bella Vista.
Click HERE to view original article