The Richmond Oilers lost to the Mt. Eden Monarchs in a dramatic contest that was undecided until late in the game. An effective Oilers aerial attack couldn’t keep pace with the Monarchs’ unyielding ground game, losing 34-29 in a nail biter. The running game was so effective that the Monarchs didn’t attempt a single pass the entire first half.
Richmond got off to a promising start as Oiler Quarterback Daniel Esparza connected with Isaiah Brown for a 35-yard strike and the game’s first 6 points. This early momentum was soon negated as the rest of the half saw Mt. Eden’s running back duo, Nick Ambeguia, and Justin Gindlesberger, share the load and rush for four touchdowns.
Despite Brown’s 80-yard touchdown reception in the final minutes of the second quarter, the Oilers found themselves in the locker room at halftime, trailing 26-14. Assistant Head Coach Marlyn Johnson tried to put the first half in perspective and focus them on the remaining 24 minutes.
“They may be big boys, but who cares,” said Johnson. “It doesn’t matter if they’re Jefferson or El Cerrito or Hayward. Go to work.”
Offensively, the second half mirrored the first for the Oilers, as Esparza found Brown for two more touchdowns. The Oilers caught a break when Mt. Eden’s Gindlesberger injured his leg during a rush and had to be carted off the field. With the Monarchs’ most dangerous weapon out of the game, the Oilers were able to hold Mt. Eden to one touchdown in the second half.
All of the game’s drama, which had been building steadily in the second half, reached its crescendo with just over two minutes left in this non-league test. Down by five and facing fourth down and long, Esparza heaved a bomb downfield to Brown, his favorite target of the night, only to have the Monarchs’ defensive back Fabian Arrizon come away with an interception, effectively ending any hope for a comeback.
After 14 consecutive losses, Mt. Eden Head Coach Paul Perenon was visibly emotional.
“When you see a kid take his first steps or utter his first word, this is what it was like,” said Perenon. “Finding a way to win against athletes like these was just incredible.”
After the loss, Richmond Head Coach Tashaka Merriweather addressed his team, repeating the need for continued practice and dedication. A former Arizona State University defensive end, Merriweather described how he wanted to create a winning football legacy at Richmond.
“I’m from Richmond,” said Merriweather. “At Arizona, they were like ‘what is that?’ I realized that we deserved more than that.”
The Oilers travel to play rival Kennedy High next Friday at 7:00PM.