With 40.1 seconds left in the third quarter, veteran Santa Rita coach Tom Joseph decided enough was enough.
The Eagles, struggling with their participation rate over the last few years, were forced to call the game at that point Friday night against Globe, losing their season-opener 40-0.
Only 12 healthy players remained after 16 suited up for the game. When the referees waved their hands to signal the game was over, Joseph’s team had more players who were not able to play at 13 than those still involved (12).
Santa Rita has 16 players in uniform tonight and nine on the bench. Those who are not playing are either transfers or they have not yet met the minimum of 10 practices. pic.twitter.com/K8ES0l93O8
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) August 27, 2022
Nine players were on the bench not wearing pads because they either transferred in and must sit the first five games or they have not met the minimum of participating in 10 practices.
“It’s just kind of non-committal here; we have to change this environment,” said Joseph, who has coached schools to four state title games, including earning a championship with Mesa Mountain View in 2002.
“Everybody, two weeks after practice starts, wants to play football and then they’ve got to get all their paperwork in so we’ve got 10 to 12 guys that when we get them back, we’ll have a team. We just ran out of bodies.”
It got to the point that fullback Abel Lopez was inserted at guard in the third quarter because Santa Rita was lacking healthy linemen. Joseph requested Globe coach Anthony Castaneda allow the move to keep the game going, and Castaneda obliged.
“This is something I’ve never seen,” one referee was heard saying.
After the next play, the game was called by Joseph.
“Stay positive. Don’t point fingers,” Joseph said he told his team after the game.
Joseph and his staff, which includes fellow veteran coach Chuck McCollum, can go into Friday’s game at Heritage Academy Laveen in Phoenix at least knowing none of their players gave up against Globe.
Joe Badilla and Lennox Pye in particular were tended to more than once during the game after sprawling on the ground in pain. They returned to action each time.
After Joseph’s postgame huddle with the Eagles, something never seen occurred.
They sprinted into a large paper spirit banner held by cheerleaders (that schools generally use for the team to break through before a game) and kept running to the locker room. Some of them were screaming with pride as they did so — this after losing in a game that had to be called early.
Players like Santa Rita QB Adrian Altamirano-Knop we can all rally around. Team just lost to Globe 40-0 with 40.1 seconds left 3Q in a game called because of the Eagles’ lack of healthy players and he took the time to talk about it and keep a positive outlook. pic.twitter.com/8i7JgNuGYk
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) August 27, 2022
“We played with heart and we can only get better from here,” said junior quarterback Adrian Altamirano-Knop. “They had 25-plus players and we only had 15. Players like myself never came off the field.
“I got hurt but I played through it. It wasn’t just me. It was a lot of other players.”
The discrepancy of available players took a toll on Santa Rita from the beginning.
Globe, coming off a 1-8 season similar to Santa Rita, had 150 yards of total offense compared to 20 for Santa Rita in the first half when it built a 27-0 halftime lead.
A fumbled snap on the first play of the game was ominous for Santa Rita. Globe scored three touchdowns by the time 4:19 remained in the first quarter, including a 60-yard punt return by Gabe Gonzales.
The Eagles only ran five offensive plays in the third quarter before the game was ended. They finished with one first down in the game with 19 total yards.
Globe had 259 total yards of offense, led by Andrew Gonzales’ 112 yards on 12 carries. Anasco Sanchez, the Tigers’ quarterback, ran for 42 yards on nine rushes with a touchdown. He also completed five of eight passes for 44 yards with two touchdowns.
Joseph and McCullom are hopeful at least four of the players who were unable to play against Globe can suit up for the trip to Heritage Academy Laveen and have close to 20 players for that game.
“We’ll try to lift each other up,” Joseph said. “We’ve got to get back to work, lifting tomorrow and getting back to practice on Monday. Just work harder.
“We’ve got to work harder and we’ve got to be tougher — make a commitment, just like life.”
GLOBE 40, SANTA RITA 0
|Santa Rita||0||0||0||—||– 0|
G – William Petty 14 run (kick failed)
G – Anasco Sanchez 5 run (kick failed)
G – Gabe Gonzales 60 punt return (Kaleb Derhammer kick)
G – Gonzales 19 pass from Sanchez (Sanchez run)
G – Russell Long 2 run (Derhammer kick)
G – Andrew Gonzales 2 pass from Sanchez (kick blocked)
Globe: Andrew Gonzales 12-112, Sanchez 9-42, Long 8-39, Petty 2-17, Esteban Garcia 1-7.
Santa Rita: Manny Mero 4-11, Abel Lopez 1-1.
Globe: Sanchez 5-8 44 yards (2 TDs)
Santa Rita: Adrian Altamirano-Knop 1-5 15 yards
Globe: Gabe Gonzales 2-23, Derhammer 2-19, Ryan Szpotowski 1-2.
Santa Rita: Joe Badilla 1-15.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.