The grass is greener for Cate in opener

Trona High School’s football team is famously known known for playing its home games on a sand field, because the ground in the desolate mining town isn’t capable of growing fresh grass.

The Tornadoes couldn’t grow fresh legs on the lush field at Cate School Friday as the host Rams opened their 8-man football season with a 37-12 victory on the hill in Carpinteria.

By the end of the game, injuries and an ejection left Trona with just 10 players total.

Cate, meanwhile, fielded nearly 30 players and looked solid defensively throughout the contest. The Rams never really found a rhythm on offense, but ultimately ran over the exhausted Tornadoes.

“The defense did a heck of a job for us, but offensively we’ve got a heck of a ways to go,” said head coach Ben Soto, citing Cate’s multiple fumbles on the day.

Randy Person scored on a 4th-down screen pass from MacKie Greason and Henry Gruner punched in a short touchdown run as the Rams took a 14-6 lead into halftime.

Both offenses fumbled away possessions early in the second half and neither team could move the ball upfield in the quarter. Trona broke through on its first possession of the fourth, however, when Jon Enriquez rumbled 65 yards up the sideline for a touchdown. The conversion failed, leaving the score at 14-12 in favor of the Rams.

With Greason out due to dizzines after a hard hit, Gregory Mak took over at quarterback and made a big play on the next possession, cutting upfield at the right moment on a fourth-down option play and gaining 11 yards to put Cate deep into Trona territory. Person followed with two hard-nosed rushes, the second a 3-yard touchdown. The conversion was successful to give the Rams a 22-12 lead.

Person scored off of a nice spin move on Cate’s very next drive, and by that time some of the Tornado players were doubled-over with exhaustion and the game was all but over.

“The first half wasn’t our best but we’re still learning. We’re a young team,” said Person.

Soto said that if scheduling issues allow for it, the Rams will travel inland to play on Trona’s infamous field next year.

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