Both of these football teams were going for their first win of the season Friday night, and the Warriors got it on their Homecoming.
Righetti junior quarterback Braden Claborn threw for one score and ran for another against his former schoolmates, and the Warriors (1-1, 1-5) beat crosstown rival Pioneer Valley (0-3, 0-5) 20-6 in a Mountain League game at Righetti’s Warrior Stadium.
Emily Macias and Mason Schmid were crowned Righetti Homecoming queen and king respectively at halftime.
Claborn began his football career at Pioneer Valley. “I played eight games for the freshman team and two games for the junior varsity,” he said. “I came here in the middle of my sophomore year.
“I love my boys,” Claborn said of the Panthers. “But I really wanted to beat them. I was just very confident going in. Now I have bragging rights.”
Claborn did plenty on his own to make sure he would get those bragging rights. Just before taking a big hit from Panther Jay Yap that knocked him to the ground, Claborn connected with Elijah Swanson for an eight-yard touchdown pass on fourth down early in the second quarter.
With 1:25 left before halftime, Claborn ditched a would-be tackle in the backfield and ran in from 10 yards out for the last Righetti score.
Claborn threw for 129 yards and ran for 64, leading the Righetti rushers. Cooper Bagby caught six Claborn passes, for 73 yards.
Brian Monighetti went in from a yard out at the 4:34 mark of the first quarter to give Righetti its first score.
Jose Gutierrez scored the Pioneer Valley touchdown from the Righetti 2 with 1:20 left to play. Rudy Mendez set up the score with a 35-yard run the previous play before.
After Zach Monighetti recovered a Panthers fumble at the Pioneer Valley 45, Yap gave the Panthers the ball back when he fell on the ball after it went off Claborn’s hands on the snap from shotgun formation and landed on the turf at the Righetti 42. The Panthers scored three plays later.
After a missed PAT try, the Warriors caught the ensuing pooch kick, Claborn took a knee twice and that was it.
“I never really thought about trying an onside kick,” after his team’s touchdown, said Pioneer Valley coach Dustin Davis.
Claborn got a lot of help from his defense, which linebacker Ryan Lopez helped spark.
Relying mainly on a quick pitch play, the Panthers had an effective ground game - 184 yards worth. The Panthers threw four passes, all incomplete.
“The running game was working,” said Davis. “Those three-to-five yard gains should become bigger gains later in the game, and they did.”
Davis, a veteran area coach who is in his first year with the Panthers, said, “We’d get to third-and-one then fumble it or get a false start penalty. That’s on me. It’s my job to prepare our players, and I didn’t do a good enough job of that.”
Though they kept the ball, a fumbled snap cost the Panthers when they had a third-and-one at midfield early in the third quarter. Then came the lost fumble in the fourth, though Yap gave his team the ball back with the recovered fumble on the next play.
The Pioneer Valley defense gave a good account of itself in the second half. The unit blanked the Warriors then, and Ethan Ramos ended a Righetti threat when he intercepted Claborn.
“Our guys gave a great effort,” said Davis.
Though he obviously relished beating Pioneer Valley, “The biggest thing for me was that it was our first win of the year and will give us a lot of confidence,” said Claborn.
Righetti will host Arroyo Grande at 7 p.m. next Friday night. Pioneer Valley will play at Paso Robles at the same time. Both games are Mountain League ones.
Besides having a big game for the Panthers on defense, Adan Rubalcava was the leading rusher with 79 yards. Richard Robles, on nine carries, added 42 yards for the Panthers.