Hayden Palmer’s final carry on 4th down with the Warriors trailing by 13 came up a yard short, capping off a wild drive but representing the Warriors’ season in 2018 — lots of effort, but not the results they sought.
Tehachapi fell 27-14 Friday night to the West High Vikings, ending a frustrating 2018 with a 2-8 mark, the fewest wins since 1961 (2-6-2) and a 1-4 mark in the South Yosemite League, the worst finish for Tehachapi since joining that league in 2014. The Warriors also missed the CIF Central Section Playoffs for the first time in 22 years while the eight losses are the most in a Tehachapi season since 1941.
“It was definitely a tough game tonight, but our kids played with a lot of pride,” said Tehachapi head coach Doug DeGeer. “We got things going alright offensively, but we just had too many turnovers and too many inconsistencies.”
The Warriors and Vikings exchanged turnovers early in the contest with three fumbles in the first four possessions, two of which were lost by Tehachapi, including one on the second play from scrimmage. The Vikings also stalled a drive on the Tehachapi 47 with a fumble as well.
West would score first after a fake punt put the Vikings up to the Tehachapi 22-yard line. A personal foul on the play would spot the ball on the Warriors' 12. The drive was capped by Khaiden Dearmore, who punched in the touchdown from two yards out with 10:09 left in the second quarter.
Tehachapi’s momentum on offense was not only stalled by turnovers, but penalties as well. The Warriors were penalized for over 50 yards in the first half. The Vikings led 7-0 at the half and had a 30-yard touchdown called back on a block in the back. The Vikings turned the ball over on downs in that possession prior to the close of the half.
West extended their lead to 14-0 on their first possession of the third quarter when Dearmore capped a 50-yard drive with a two-yard run for his second score of the night. Tehachapi would take advantage of a holding call that wiped out another would-be West score when Chris Garcia connected with Peyton Stowers for an 85-yard pass completion that set up a one-yard touchdown run by Palmer to cut the West lead to 14-6 after a missed point after attempt.
The Vikings responded with a kickoff return to the THS 36-yard line before quarterback Ray Espinoza scored on the ground from 12 yards out for a 21-6 lead. Tehachapi fumbled on their next possession near midfield and West capitalized with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Espinoza to Traievon Harris for a 27-6 lead.
The Warriors made one final push, completing a 63-yard drive with Palmer’s second score of the night from six yards out. He would also convert on the two-point attempt to pull Tehachapi within 27-14. The Warriors forced one more West fumble on the THS 19, but the final drive ended along with the Warriors’ season on a turnover on downs.
There were five fumbles in the game, three lost by Tehachapi and a pair lost by West. The Vikings scored 13 points off two of the fumbles by the Warriors.
“It was definitely a tough year, but I truly think there are a lot of positive things that we can build on moving forward,” DeGeer said. “We have a lot of young talent, we just have to get those kids in the weight room and working hard in the off season.”
The Braves ended their season with a 22-8 win over West, securing a second-place finish in the SYL with a 3-2 record.
Tyler O’Brien recorded a pair of touchdowns for the Braves, a 42-yard reception in the first quarter and a 17-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter. Malik McClendon added a rushing touchdown for the Braves who finished the season 4-6.
The Indians recorded their second win of the season with an 8-6 victory over West on Thursday evening.
Tehachapi scored first but not until the fourth quarter on a nine-yard run by Tylar Love. Caiden Salcido converted on the two-point conversion for Tehachapi.
West scored six plays later from two yards out but had their two-point conversion stopped at the goal line. Tehachapi turned the ball over on downs at midfield in the final minutes, but Luke Cramer would intercept a pass in the West endzone to seal the win for Tehachapi.