Prep Impressions: March 19, 2021

RIVERSIDE — The Riverside Ramona-Riverside Arlington Week 1-A varsity football game on Friday, March 19, 2021, was a first glimpse at the affects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on high school football teams.

For Ramona, it’s about getting its senior class, the one that came oh-so-close to a CIF-Southern Section title, just a few more nights under the lights. But the Rams, who lost 42-40 to Anaheim Esperanza in the ’19 CIF-SS Division 13 title game, now have a look like they’ll forever carry a weight that can only be lifted momentarily under the lights on Friday nights. It’s a palpable feeling, and you can see it senior QB Diego Muniz, who looks years older than he did as a junior in 2019.

Ramona coach Ken Mushinskie said, “The kids are very resilient. I think that as coaches it took a little bit longer. Definitely, the kids, I know they felt the sting of that loss (but) honestly we haven’t thought about it in the past 12 months. Again, they’re very resilient and and it stung but but we have a really solid group so I think they’re kind of put it in the back of their heads. This game  was so much more than just a football game. We got the community back in the stadium and the kids played high school football. It’s awesome deal (and) to play Arlington, a crosstown rival, a lot of the kids know each other and it was special. It was nice and just to see us do well. We have some things to work on but I will be back to the drawing board next week against a very good Norte Vista team.”

For Arlington, there isn’t anywhere to go but up. The hard reset has help to put the past behind the Lions, but some of the same issues remain regardless of new players or attitude. Team size and depth continue to hamper the smallest program in the Riverside Unified School District, and there’s no real fix for those issues. Freshman RB Christian Bozeman is a bruiser with tree trunks for thighs and room to grow. Junior QB Mitchell Wood has a bigger arm than anticipated and some moxie. 

Arlington coach Jeff Roney said, “It absolutely felt good to get in the end zone at the end (of the game) but that drive was set up by our freshman running back Christian Bozeman and our freshman tight end Mario Palagi. We have some good young players but we have to stop taking little victories and take the next step for this program. I think we have something we can build on, and that’s why I told the coaches to let Bozeman run. Just give him the ball so we can build upon his performances, and he can gain some confidence in this offense and we can build some confidence as a team.”

BOX SCORE
Ramona – 7 – 6 – 8 – 0 — 21
Arlington – 0 – 0 – 0 – 8 — 8
First quarter

R – Reyes 6 run (#41 kick), 9:10
Second quarter
R – Bruins 9 run (kick failed), 10:02
Third quarter
R – Bruins 1 run (#34 run), 5:12
Fourth quarter
A – Gomez 1 run (Wood run), 4:46
Individual statistics
Rushing
– Ramona: #34 16-80, Bruins 7-50, #12 3-26, #32 1-7, Reyes 1-6, Muniz 5-(minus-17); Arlington: Bozeman 11-67, Gomez 12-59, Wood 10-33, Meloni 3-11, Warhop 3-6, Allen 3-2.
Passing – Ramona: Muniz 8-10-1-154; Norco: Wood 3-7-0-53, Gomez 1-2-1-(minus-1).
Receiving – Ramona: Monje 5-92, #8 3-62; Arlington: Allen 1-24, Chavez 1-17, Van Lierop 1-12, Rideout 1-(minus-1).
Penalties – Ramona: 8-85; Arlington: 8-70.

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