Home Sports Local Sports Dexter defeats Santa Rosa to start season

Dexter defeats Santa Rosa to start season

Dexter’s Ricardo Contreras runs to the corner untouched into the endzone for Dexter’s first score Friday night against Santa Rosa. (Shawn Naranjo Photo)

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The Dexter Demons’ defense of their 2018 class 3A state championship got off to a solid start on Friday night as they notched a season-opening victory over visiting Santa Rosa, 28-0.

Dexter head coach Arturo Duran was pleased with the shut-out win and the effort of his team overall.

“We played really good,” Duran said. “Some of the time we made mistakes here and there that we got corrected — and we’ve just got to continue working hard and getting better.

“Our defense played tough. We were able to shut them down. I believe we had three turnovers defensively, and those turnovers create opportunities for the offense. We played well-rounded football.”

It had been almost a year to the day since these two teams last met. Duran and his squad began last year’s 11-2 campaign — which ended with them celebrating the title — with a 21-14 win over the 2A Lions. Santa Rosa’s 2018 season wasn’t bad either. They went 11-2 before falling to Eunice in the 2A title tilt.

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Not surprisingly, coming into Friday’s contest, both teams were highly thought of by the prognosticators of on-field success. But it was Dexter that really began fulfilling that promise as the 2019 season got underway.

Both teams had trouble getting into a rhythm early on, trading possessions that failed to put points on the board. But late in the first quarter, the Demons began to show signs of life.

The Santa Rosa punter bobbled a snap at the end of a stifled drive and Dexter’s special teams unit pounced, giving the Demons the ball deep in Lions’ territory. Taking the snap at the Lions’ 24-yard line, Dexter quarterback Marvin Johnson, Jr. fired a strike to Marco Munoz, who carried the ball to the Santa Rosa 3-yard line. Ricardo Contreras then ran the ball into the end zone on a toss play and after the extra point, Dexter led 7-0 with 3:11 remaining in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, a little trickery from Duran kept a Demons’ drive alive. Facing a fourth and five on his own 39-yard line, the coach called for a fake punt. The pass play Dexter executed took the ball all the way to the Santa Rosa 36.

The drive ended in a punt, but indicated to the crowd the Demons might be beginning to heat up.

Later in the half, a big punt return by the Demons’ Martin Meraz gave Dexter a set of downs to work with, starting at the Lions’ 40-yard line. A Johnson pass to Contreras put the Demons in the red zone, and then a keeper by the quarterback took the ball to the Santa Rosa seven.

On first and goal, Johnson again kept the ball and ran in for Dexter’s second touchdown of the evening, making it Dexter-14, Santa Rosa-0 with 1:01 left in the first half.

Santa Rosa caused the crowd to catch its collective breath when they returned the ensuing kick-off deep into Demons’ territory. But a timely interception of a Lions’ pass headed off any possible threat. The half ended with the score 14-0.

The third quarter was frustrating for both teams, with points and big plays hard to come by for either — until a Dexter series of downs that started at the Santa Rosa 33 with 2:50 left in the stanza.

A run up the right side by Meraz took the ball down to the Lions’ 5-yard line and a play later, Johnson easily carried the ball around the left side for Dexter’s third touchdown of the night, making it 21-0 with 1:47 left in the third. That score would hold until the quarter ended.

The Demons added another score with 7:41 left in the game after an interception set them up with good field position on the Santa Rosa 26. Dexter led 28-0, a score that would hold as the clock wound down.

Dexter is young this season, faced with replacing some key contributors lost to graduation from last season’s championship team. Of the players now stepping up to fill those shoes, Duran said, “They showed composure. Sometimes we’ve seen their youth, but they played tough. The main thing, they played strong through the whole game. They kept working hard and never gave up.”

There are experienced performers returning as well, players who have the advantage — which should benefit the Demons all season long — of having tasted a championship.

Duran and his team know what it takes to win and how good it feels to hold a trophy aloft once the final seconds have ticked off the season’s long clock. Their march continues with a game at Texico on Aug. 30.

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