Roadrunners win COD-SBVC Challenge Trophy: First time in 6 years

The Roadrunners start their season 1-0, beating San Bernardino Valley

The Roadrunners beat San Bernardino Valley 37-20

The COD Roadrunners beat the San Bernardino Valley Wolverines in dominating fashion on Saturday night, winning the COD-SBVC Challenge Trophy for the first time since 2015. This wasn’t the only achievement that night, as this was also the first time that the Roadrunners have won their opening game of the season since 2011.

COD started out hot, causing an SBV turnover on the opening drive of the game. While that turnover did not lead to points, the Roadrunner offense would score three times in the first half while the defense held the Wolverines to a single score. Things got a bit closer in the second half, as the Wolverines tied up the game early in the fourth quarter. This didn’t last for long because the Roadrunners would go on to score 17 unanswered points to finish the game.

The stars

Coming off of a phenomenal 2021 season, standout wide receiver Kevin Johnson showed why he was a first-team All-State selection on Saturday night. Johnson ended the game with four receptions for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns, routinely making tough catches over defenders and showing off his ability to run after the catch. Running back Arieon Capler also stood out on the offensive side of the ball. Capler showed off his power running the ball all night, carrying the rock 18 times for 100 yards and a score while also throwing a 52-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Johnson off of a designed trick play.

On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Christopher Moore put his ball skills on display, coming away with two interceptions on the night to go along with 4 tackles. For the most part, he locked down any receiver he was covering and was a big reason for the defense’s success. Another member of the secondary made his presence known in this game, and that was safety Darrell Lewis. Lewis was all over the field, ending the game with 10 tackles and a sack. He set the tone for this defense, delivering hard hit after a hard hit against the Wolverine offense. Every hit was at full speed, and it sounded like it too.

The moment

After the Wolverines tied the game up 20-20 early in the fourth quarter, the Roadrunner offense was driving down the field to take the lead. After crossing midfield, the offense was faced with a fourth and long in Wolverine territory. It would have been a long field goal, and not wanting to give momentum back to Wolverines, the Roadrunners decided to take a chance. Quarterback Cesar Vela dropped back and scrambled to his left looking for any open receivers, and while no one seemed open, Vela let it rip 30 yards to wide receiver Dylan Maldonado. Maldonado adjusted to the ball, getting leverage on the opposing corner, and making a phenomenal catch near the goal line. This catch led to a Jelani Brown touchdown run to break the tie and put the Roadrunners up 27-20. After this play, it was smooth sailing from then on for the Roadrunners.

The chatter

Head coach Jack Steptoe gives speech after beating San Bernardino Valley (Dean Trombino)

Head coach Jack Steptoe on winning the opening game of the season:

“It feels fantastic, it’s been haunting me for the last 6 years. I hadn’t beaten San Bernardino since 2015. So it feels amazing. I can’t be more proud of these guys, these guys did not quit. We kind of got relaxed the second half, we got a bit comfortable, then all of a sudden they just woke up again. The offense ignited everything and then we started playing defense again, and this is the end result. This is a real solid win for us going into our second game against my alma mater, LA Valley.”

Kevin Johnson on the trick play that leads to his long touchdown catch:

“All game up to that point I had been blocking the person covering me hard, so when we got the heads up on the play call, I knew that he would bite. And he did, he bit really hard, Arieon threw a nice ball, and once I caught it, I knew we had scored.”

The takeaway

Overall, this was an impressive win for COD. The Roadrunners showed that they can compete with any team that they come up against this season. Offensively, they can pound the ball in the run game consistently while also having explosive play ability due to their duel threat quarterback and stacked receiving core. Defensively, they were dominant in defending the run, only allowing 39 yards rushing the whole game, but they also showed their ability to rush the passer as well as create turnovers. While there was a lot of good in this win, it definitely wasn’t perfect. The defense allowed over 300 yards passing, which isn’t going to fly against higher-powered offenses. The Roadrunner’s passing attack was also lackluster at times in this game, while they had explosive plays at the right times, they could not consistently throw the ball for much of the night. The quarterback isn’t all to blame for this, however, as the receivers had some drop issues throughout the game as well. So while it really was a good win, they’ll need to fix some things before their game against LA Valley.

What’s next?

College of the Desert (1-0) will travel to LA Valley at 7:00 p.m., Saturday the 17th.