TOMBSTONE — Despite being outsized and outnumbered, the Tombstone Yellow Jackets stung the San Carlos Braves Friday evening, flying to a 45-12 win in their season-opening football game.
Tombstone came out on fire and never let up. At the end of the first half, the ackets led 28-6, and they continued to widen the gap in the second half.
The Jackets had 22 total players to the Braves’ 33, and a new quarterback in Jacob Oliver, but being short-handed with a rookie QB did not slow them down a bit.
Yellow Jacket wide receiver Zeke Esparza scored two touchdowns, kicked a field goal and five extra points. Touchdowns were also scored by Hadden Chamberlain, Jacob Oliver, Nathan Chamberlain and Bobby Phillips.
After going into the halftime break with a 22-point lead, the Jackets continued to score against the Braves, with the score climbing to 45-6 before the end of the third quarter, when Tombstone finally took their foot off the gas.
Bob Butterworth, a former THS wrestling coach who compiles the football and wrestling statistics for the school district, provided the following numbers.
“Jacob Oliver completed 11 passes out of 21 attempts with 163 yards and four touchdowns. He had one interception,” Butterworth said. “He also led the team in rushing with five carries for 83 yards and one touchdown. Those are impressive stats for his first game as a quarterback.”
Butterworth also noted that linebacker Jacob Bonilla had 13 tackles, while Oliver had nine.
”Zeke Esparza had two catches and carried the ball 69 yards for two touchdowns and kicked a 33-yard field goal, which is something Tombstone has not seen in awhile,” he said. It’s been about five years since we’ve had a field goal kicker.”
Braves quarterback Eliah Victor scored a touchdown in the second quarter, with fullback Xaivior Classay scoring the team’s only other touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Yellow Jacket head coach Jerry Rhoades, who is in his first year leading the team, said for as few players as the Jackets have to work with, the guys played “really hard.”
“We didn’t always do things right, but I was encouraged by the effort the guys put into the game,” Rhoades said. “Our middle linebacker, Jacob Bonilla, had a really good game. He was involved in most of the defensive plays and played very well. Zeke Esparza, our kicker and wide receiver, also had a good game. Overall, I was pleased with the way the guys played and the effort they put into the game, but we have a lot of work ahead of us, especially our offense.”
Tombstone Athletic Director Brian Miller also praised the team’s effort.
“I thought we played hard and threw the ball well, but we need to work on our running game,” he said. “Our special teams were really good and I was impressed with the effort our guys put into this first game.”
Game announcer Jake Winslow said the lopsided victory was a great way to start the season.
“It was a fun game to watch. Jacob (Oliver) threw the ball a lot, and once he got settled in after the first few minutes, he was pretty effective,” Winslow said. “As the game went on, he started getting more confident in running the ball, too.”
The Jackets’ next two games are away. They play the San Manuel Miners next Friday, followed by Antelope Union High School near Yuma on Sept. 13. The next home game is Sept. 20 against the Globe Tigers, who play 1-0 Bisbee on Friday.