The Righetti High School football team was defeated by Tulare Union, 45-30, in the CIF-Central Section Division 2 championship game on Friday night in Tulare.
The Warriors fell down 3-0 right away in the 1st quarter after they fumbled the opening kickoff and the Tribe capitalized with a field goal.
Later in the quarter, Tulare Union made it 9-0 as Nathan Lamb hit Darius Baker for the 10-yard touchdown.
The Tribe kept on the pressure in the 2nd quarter as David Dailey busted out a 56-yard touchdown run up the left sideline. Just like that, it was 17-0 Tulare Union.
The Warriors finally shifted the momentum late in the first half. The Tribe muffed a punt return and Cody Glynn jumped on the football deep inside Tulare Union territory.
Brandon Giddings capitalized on the turnover with a one-yard quarterback sneak with under one minute left in the 2nd quarter. Righetti trailed 17-7 at the break.
On the opening drive for the Tribe in the 3rd quarter, Lamb delivered his second touchdown pass of the game to Baker to make it a 23-7 ballgame.
Righetti was able to get a huge stop defensively a few minutes later. Jake Steels made a highlight reel interception in the end zone to get the ball back to the Warriors’ offense, but the drive stalled.
Lamb and the Tribe offense would get the ball back and he’d connect on his third touchdown pass of the night to give Tulare Union a 31-7 advantage.
All seemed lost for Righetti, but they made a late surge. Kidasi Nepa, Adan Solis, and Giddings punched in rushing touchdowns to cut the game to two possessions.
But the Tribe always seemed to have an answer. Lamb tossed his fifth and final touchdown pass of the game late in the 4th quarter to put the game on ice.
It’s the Tribe’s second straight undefeated CIF-Central Section Division 2 title. For Righetti, it’s the best finish in program history.
“It is some recognition for a historic season and that’s what this was,” Righetti head coach Tony Payne said. “These are historic football players. These are some of the best football players this school has ever had. It just says a lot about the kind of kids that we have in our community and the kind of kids we have at Righetti High School. The future is really, really bright.”
“It means everything,” Righetti senior Caleb Thomas added. “It just shows everybody that Righetti football is back. It’s just to keep getting better. We have great junior, sophomore, and freshman classes. They’re going to come back even better, and it’s just great to pave the way for those young kids who have a real shot to win it in the future years.”
The Warriors finish the season with a 10-3 overall record.