There’s a first for everything and Grossmont High School football head coach Chis Holmes is beaming ear to ear after picking up his first win with the Foothillers following a 37-14 non-league victory against the visiting Sweetwater Red Devils on Aug. 19.
“The feeling of getting my first win with the Foothillers is amazing — something I will always cherish,” Holmes said of the win that pushed his team to a 1-0 start to the 2021-22 season. “I am thankful to my coaching staff, school, and, of course, the football team for this amazing opportunity.”
The Red Devils, who were coming off a perfect 5-0 record and Metro-Pacific League championship from the 2021 spring season, actually scored the first points in the game after senior Javier Sanchez intercepted a pass and later scored on fourth down.
The visitors missed the extra-point conversion to lead 6-0.
But the hosts quickly got into the endzone to take a lead they would not relinquish the remainder of the game.
Senior Trenton Giles passed 35 yards to senior Ryan Rodieck for the Foothillers’ first touchdown of the evening. Senior Gio Burns then returned a punt 43 yards to the SuHi 10-yard line to set up the second touchdown of the game for Grossmont on a short swing pass from Giles to Rodieck.
Rodieck later caught a 39-yard score to put his team up 21-6 at halftime. Rodieck finished the contest with three receiving touchdowns. He also completed a 45-yard halfback pass to senior receiver Jawad Rivera in the second half for another touchdown.
Burns returned another punt in the 40-yard range in the fourth quarter to set up Giles’ four-yard scoring run.
The schools rekindled a rivalry that first started 101 years ago.
“I was proud of the way our team battled,” Holmes said. “It was our first game, so the execution wasn’t perfect, but we figured out a way to put on a good showing. It took us a couple of drives to get settled, but once we got rolling, we took control of the game.
“I felt we had explosive plays across all three phases of the game. Gio’s kick return, which was called out, was a sight to behold. Ryan ‘Pudge’ Rodieck was an absolute monster for us offensively, and Ryan Odom played with a high motor defensively while flying all over the place to make excellent tackles.”
The Devils rushed 42 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns — both by Sanchez (13 carries, 58 yards).
Sweetwater head coach Ervin Hernandez was disappointed by the outcome but proud of how his team competed.
“Grossmont is a great team and hats off to their coaches,” Hernandez said. “We couldn’t move the ball on offense and our special teams put us in bad field position. We were happy with our defense in the first half with two interceptions and a big stop on fourth down, but we need to stop big plays from happening and make them work to get down the field. We will adjust and ensure we have a better week of practice.”
The Devils did not generate any passing yards and tallied 36 yards on two interceptions for a total of 174 all-purpose yards in the game. Senior Carlos Hopper rushed 14 times for 66 yards to lead the visitors on the ground while also scoring on a two-point conversion.
Sophomore Adrian Guerrero had the team’s other interception. Sophomore Cesar Guerra paced the visitors defensively with seven tackles while senior Fabian Venegas had six stops. Hopper and Sanchez both had five tackles, including three each for losses.
Grossmont will host the El Camino Wildcats (1-0) this Friday in another non-league contest while Sweetwater will remain on the road with a non-league clash at Coronado (0-1).
El Camino is coming off a rousing 21-13 non-league victory against the No. 8-ranked St. Augustine Saints while Coronado dropped a 10-7 overtime decision to the visiting Santana Sultans in season openers last Friday.