High school football: Lyon leads Rio Americano past Davis

Published: Sunday, Sep. 16, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Sunday, Sep. 16, 2012 - 2:28 pm

Mark Lyon is a natural leader.

The senior quarterback and linebacker spent much of a hot, sweaty Saturday afternoon prodding, motivating and inspiring his exhausted, undermanned Rio Americano High School teammates during their nonleague game against visiting Davis.

So with the Raiders trailing the Blue Devils 21-20 with 1:51 to play, Lyon decided to take matters into his own hands and get the right result from the wrong decision.

In a play Lyon admitted probably should have gone to fullback Darrin Nishi, Lyon kept the ball, dodged a sea of tacklers and tiptoed along the right sideline, then dived into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown to give the Raiders (2-2) an unexpected 26-21 win over the Blue Devils (2-2).

"It was an option read for me and the fullback, and I probably didn't make the right read," Lyon said. "But I saw the hole and thought I could get outside."

The touchdown came a few plays after the game was stopped for 25 minutes while officials waited for medics to arrive to treat two Rio Americano cheerleaders who had suffered apparent heat stroke.

Before the stoppage, the Raiders had driven from their 25 with 7:33 left to the Davis 12 with 2:28 to play.

"We were just trying not to tighten or cramp up and to stay focused because it was such a big game for us," said Lyon who rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 134 yards and a score.

When Christian Mahaffey took over as the Rio Americano coach four years ago, the first thing he looked at was grooming a quarterback.

He saw a gem in the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Lyon.

"Mark had never played quarterback," Mahaffey said. "But he's tough, hardnosed and a winner. There's more to playing that position than just throwing the ball. You want someone who can take a hit and show his teammates that he can get up."

Lyon did that plenty of times Saturday as he and fellow D-III Raiders Zack Saurez, Robert Crandall, Guillermo Salazar, Ryan Burns, Jordan Vinson and Tommy Knapp played most of the game on both sides against the Division I Blue Devils, who had outscored their last two opponents (Foothill and Armijo) 102-7 and may have their best team in five years.

Lyon's reps at linebacker increased a little more when middle linebacker Connor Shatz had to be carted off the field with 8:10 to go with a leg and hip injury and a cut lip.

"We're used to it," Lyon said of playing both ways in blistering heat. "Small numbers for football has kind of been Rio's thing. We knew we needed to get this win to turn around our season."

Now Rio Americano, which lost to Casa Roble and Jesuit to start the season, has a two-game winning streak heading into Friday's game at Calaveras, and then a bye week.

"If we can go 3-2 in nonleague, it gives us a shot (at the playoffs)," Mahaffey said.

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