Home SoCal Coyote News Rush Hour 2: Coyotes Rock Road Win to Stay Alive

Rush Hour 2: Coyotes Rock Road Win to Stay Alive


(LAS VEGAS) — It was supposed to be a funeral.

The SoCal Coyotes – those pesky purveyors of faith, family and football – were scheduled to be lowered into the ground Sunday night in an unceremonious sacrifice. Hundreds of miles away from their families and friends, alone on a dirt field in gale-force winds on a vacant Las Vegas park so obscure that a census man with a road map couldn’t find it, the critics were already tossing dirt on their grave.

But someone forgot to tell the Coyotes, who have proven time and again that when you back them against the wall and throw grenades into their camp, they will pull the pins and throw them back.  The Coyotes gathered to pray before the journey, and those making the critical trip were given new helmet decals with the team’s award-winning logo, reminding each one of them that only they alone on this day would be there to ‘Defend the Shield.”

Traveling with a roster of only 23 players – and just three offensive linemen – the Coyotes dug deep in their psyche to gather their strength, rise up, and beat a much-improved Las Vegas Rush 26-14 to keep their Wild West Football League (WWFL) playoff and title hopes very much alive.

Get this – Some boys grew into men, as they played at whatever positions necessary, and without hesitation or complaint. Tyler Malone started at defensive end to replace Jordan “The Iceman” Cornell, who started at left offensive tackle – without so much as a whimper. Malone could be found at the bottom of every pile, while Cornell protected the blindside of rookie quarterback Mondo Delgado Jr. without error – no penalties, no sacks, and better yet – nothing but compliments from running back David “The Diesel” Cathcart.  Safety Alfredo Melendez – playing for the first time in front of his father, who had traveled from Indiana – hit everything that moved, and even some things that didn’t.  Dana Prieto continued to build his case for defensive rookie of the year, roaming sideline to sideline like a madman and playing with the confidence of a Pro Bowler.

Get this – Some men became boys again, like nose tackle Cedric Cox, who was as giddy as a Cub Scout. Cox played like a one-man wrecking crew with the dominance and stamina of a player half his age, forcing three fumbles, recovering a few and destroying the Rush at the point of attack.  Cox had guaranteed a victory to radio host Julie Buehler earlier in the week, and he made good on his promise. Moreover, his child-like enthusiasm was infectious – his whooping and hollering could be heard even over the deafening weather conditions.  Corner Bo Bovain played absolutely flawless, and corner Dashawn Carr overcame early mistakes to play hurt, play with passion, and was all over the field. Montrell and Devion were book-end Browns who made the Rush see red, stuffing runs and making key third-down stops. Missing, however, on defense was middle linebacker Cyle “Mr. Everything” Tisdale, because …. Huh? What’s that? He was starting at offensive left guard, proving why he really is, well, Mr. Everything.

Get this – Center Brian “Porkchop” Gollnick – the team’s elder statesman at age 39 – didn’t miss a snap, and — along with Johnathon Zazueta and David Villegas — opened holes big enough to drive, ahem, a Diesel through.  David “The Diesel” Cathcart punished tacklers on 11 carries for 109 yards, including scores of 48 and 12 yards. The 48-yarder was his career-long as a Coyote as he recorded his 10th career 100-yard game with the club. The 48 yarder was an 18 option, and when the defender took the nimble Delgado, the flip to the Diesel in the open field was lethal.  Frozen in time will be the look on the safety’s face when he turned around, only to see the Diesel galloping like Roger Craig into the secondary, at full speed, all knees and elbows. No chance.

Get thisVeteran receivers Josh Asuncion, Rashad “The Franchise” Roberts and Demario Brown kept soothing quarterback Delgado Jr. with the satisfaction that if he could just get the ball in their hands, they would turn completions into first downs, and fourth downs into touchdowns.  Asuncion piled up yards on the team’s Cincinnati option, Brown stiff-armed his way to critical first downs, and Roberts, well, was The Franchise. On a fourth and six from the Rush 37, Delgado laced a pass over the top of a man-free look and Roberts scored to end the first half. In the second half, Delgado couldn’t believe it when the Rush gave him the same look, and it ended with the same result.  “The best way to shut up the crowd,” said head coach J. David Miller, “is throw touchdowns.”

Get thisEverybody got in on the act. Slotback Richard Blaney played the entire game, blocked like a wildcat and actually suggested plays to the coaching staff, who actually listened. Rookies who were given the opportunity to play proved they should have been playing all year. Jason Franek, starting at defensive end, killed two Rush drives by batting down two passes, had five quarterback pressures, seven tackles and five tackles for losses. Tyler Malone started at the other defensive end, had four tackles and played error-free. Linebackers Jeremy Sutherland, Alex Mendoza and Bryan Garcia were solid, and Mendoza also handled kicking duties.  Corey Westmoreland and Juan Valencia starred on special teams, and Westmoreland played slotback for the first time in his life.

“The Rush are a first-class organization, they are a playoff team, and they played their hearts out,” said Miller. “But this definitely showed the tenacity of our players, who mocked their critics and delivered a huge exclamation point with a critical win on the road. There’s no such thing as an easy road win in a hostile environment.  Being the stars they are, they put on a show, and most of all, had fun.”

Fun? Was that the Coyotes doing the Harlem Shake just before a post-game pizza celebration?

Fun? Was that the Coyotes dancing – with assistant head coach Wayne Anderson Jr. – to Tootsie Roll?

“This team has had every obstacle thrown in its path,” Miller said. “People tend to forget that the core of this team has already traveled more than 1,000 miles this season alone. They’ve had a practice or a game every month for the past year.  These are the guys who come to practice, the guys who travel, the guys who aren’t quitters, the guys who are unselfish, and tonight, the guys who won and kept everyone’s hopes alive.”

Obstacles, indeed. If an interstate tire blowout to one of the rented team vans during the trip down wasn’t enough, the WWFL made sure the game would not be played without the usual drama that shrouds the league.  From the time the Coyotes stepped out of their team vans and were told “the lights go out in a few hours, and the clock is already running,” it was evident this night would live in infamy in the annals of minor-league football.

First, the WWFL –for lack of a field — rescheduled the Coyotes-Rush game from a usual Saturday afternoon/evening game to 5 p.m. on a Sunday. This meant that most SoCal players couldn’t travel because of work or school obligations the following Monday. “There was enormous personal sacrifice involved for those who made this trip,” said Miller. “Some guys didn’t get home until 4 a.m., and went straight to work.”

Second, what message was the WWFL sending the Coyotes and the Rush? The game was played on a field not fit for cows, because even grazing cows require grass. “It wasn’t grass with patches of dirt,” said Jordan Cornell, who spent much of his night getting close-up looks at the ground while opening holes for the Diesel.  “This was dirt with an occasional patch of weeds.”

The National Weather Service reported swirling winds gusting at over 40 miles per hour, which blew debris across a “field” that had no goal posts, and was set up by the league with garbage cans, traffic cones, and numbers that were spray-painted like graffiti .   “I’ve seen it all,” said one referee, who asked that his name not be mentioned in this story.

The Coyotes, after a two-minute team stretch and no warm-ups, started the game, and with the running clock that stopped for nothing and temperatures dipping into the 40s, the first half ended in record time and before some players had even broken a sweat.

But in the end, it was still football.

And in the end, the Coyotes were winners.

As their vans turned onto the interstate for the long ride home, Coyote players could be heard singing and partying, like a team that was very much alive, and once again, very much in control of its own destiny.




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