Marcus Larson/News-Register##
Sheridan quarterback Josh Rogers steps back to pass down field to an open receiver. Sheridan lost the game 61-16
Marcus Larson/News-Register## Sheridan quarterback Josh Rogers steps back to pass down field to an open receiver. Sheridan lost the game 61-16
Marcus Larson/News-Register##
Sheridan s Joey Daniel goes to the ground to try and make a sliding catch, but drops the ball. Taft won the game, 61-16.
Marcus Larson/News-Register## Sheridan's Joey Daniel goes to the ground to try and make a sliding catch, but drops the ball. Taft won the game, 61-16.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##
Sheridan s Chris Savoldi leaps high in the air, deflecting a passed ball into the hands of a Taft defender for an interception.
Marcus Larson/News-Register## Sheridan's Chris Savoldi leaps high in the air, deflecting a passed ball into the hands of a Taft defender for an interception.
Marcus Larson/News-Register
Sheridan s Chris Savoldi upends a Taft ball carrier to put a stop to the run.
Marcus Larson/News-Register Sheridan's Chris Savoldi upends a Taft ball carrier to put a stop to the run.
By Logan Brandon • Logan Brandon • 

Sheridan wins the second half, 16-0, but loses to Taft, 61-16

SHERIDAN – Falling behind 61-0 to visiting Taft at halftime, Sheridan’s football team could have thrown in the towel. But first-year head coach Steve Westmoreland’s squad showed tremendous heart in the second half, outscoring the Tigers 16-0.

The final score line of 61-16 delivered a painful West Valley League loss to the Spartans, but the fight they displayed in the final 24 minutes will be something Westmoreland can build on going into next week’s matchup with the Amity Warriors.

“I talked to them at the half. I said, ‘Men are you ready to quit?’ And they looked me in the eyes and said, ‘No, we are not ready to quit.’ They showed some real heart in the second half, and that’s all I can ask,” said Westmoreland.

Due to wet conditions, the Spartans coach had a pass-heavy game plan. Unfortunately, drops by Sheridan receivers and overthrows by quarterbacks Jake DeBoff and Josh Rogers led to zero offensive momentum in the first half. DeBoff and Rogers combined to throw more interceptions (eight) than completions (four) in the first 24 minutes.

“I was trying to throw to run. On a wet night, I thought we could throw the ball on them and pick up some first downs, and open up the running game.  But we had a lot of drops; receivers were getting hit in the hands and not coming up with the catch,” said Westmoreland.

While Sheridan’s offense languished, the Tigers, led by running back Dylan Gold, were a machine. They opened the game with a 10-play drive that ended in a five-yard Gold touchdown plunge. Gold carried the ball seven times in that initial series, punishing the Spartan defense up the middle.

It was the fourth and fifth series of the night that broke the game wide open for the Tigers. Josh Salsbery displayed his speed and shiftiness, returning a punt 70 yards for a touchdown. Then, DeBoff threw his first interception on the next drive and Salsbery again came up big on the return, sprinting 45 yards to give Taft a 21-0 lead.

The game just got worse in the following series’ as errant Sheridan passes led to seven more interceptions. Gold continued to run strong, delivering two more TDs. Before they knew it, the Spartans were staring down a 61-0 halftime deficit.

Then came Westmoreland’s halftime speech, and his troops were roused from their stupor.

The home teams’ defense opened the second half with its strongest performance of the night. Players were attacking the Tigers with renewed tenacity, eventually forcing a fumble in the end zone. Defensive back Larry Hayes pounced on the loose ball and gave the fans a reason to cheer.

Two series later, Spartan running back Tommy Dawson sprung free for a 44-yard touchdown run, lifting spirits in the stadium once again. But with the mercy rule in effect and the clock continually running, the newly motivated Spartan offense ran out of time to make up the daunting deficit.

Dawson was the only consistent threat for the Spartans, but he could only do so much with the turnovers plaguing his team. He finished the night with seven carries for 60 yards and a touchdown.

Gold’s running was the highlight of the night for both teams as he turned his 16 carries into 135 yards and three touchdowns. Salsbery turned in an incredible performance as well, claiming three interceptions and returning two of them for touchdowns.

Sheridan’s (0-2, 1-3) stern test against second-place Amity will be at home with a 7 p.m. kickoff next Friday.

Taft (1-1, 2-2) climbs into fourth place in the WVL and next play the Warriors on Oct 7.

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