With all the offensive firepower on the field, leave it a 5-foot-8, 140-pound junior outside linebacker to make the play of the game.
Cameron Cathey of Union Mine High School blocked a punt with his team nursing a 29-28 lead Friday night at Cordova and recovered on the Lancers’ 8-yard line with 5 minutes left. Two plays later, Austin Rigsby scored from eight yards out to give the Diamondbacks a 35-28 lead they would not relinquish.
“We had a good rush, and someone took out the blocker for me,” Cathey said of his first blocked punt of the year. “Once I blocked the punt, I knew I had to go get it.”
The win solidifies the Diamondbacks’ hold on second place in the Sierra Valley Conference at 3-1 (6-3 overall), their only loss in the SVC coming to Galt’s Liberty Ranch, 34-21. Liberty Ranch remains undefeated in SVC play after beating Rosemont 20-12. Cordova falls to 1-3 in the SVC and 4-5 overall. The loss likely ended the Lancers’ hopes of making the playoffs for just the fourth time since 1990.
We had a good rush, and someone took out the blocker for me. Once I blocked the punt, I knew I had to go get it.
Union Mine’s Cameron Cathey on his first blocked punt of the year
But the Lancers were game.
Cordova quarterback Unique Perez and wide receiver Devin Baldwin hooked up for 304 of Perez’s 411 passing yards and two touchdowns. Baldwin had 11 catches. His scoring catches were of 46 and 74 yards.
Baldwin’s last reception was a 42-yarder to Union Mine’s 2-yard line with 44 seconds left. After a run for no gain and two incomplete passes, Perez’s final attempt to an open Baldwin in the end zone was batted down at the line of scrimmage, and the Diamondbacks ran out the clock.
“We played a lot of man against Baldwin because, quite honestly, we’re not good enough to play zone and give Perez time to throw,” said Union Mine coach Davy Johnson. “We brought guys (on blitzes), and (Cordova) still made plays.”
Union Mine can earn a playoff berth with a win next Friday at home against rival El Dorado.
It will take another strong game from Rigsby, who rushed 27 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns against Cordova.
Mark Billingsley is a Carmichael-based freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org or @editorwriter001.