Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Rio Americano beats Fairfield in playoff opener

After a long playoff drought, the Raiders stopped a last second runback to win 20-19

In Rio Americano’s first playoff game in memory, the offense left the field after a safety with seven seconds left. 

But that was the plan, and the Raiders (9-2) got it right–this time–hanging on to beat Fairfield on the road 20-19.

The wild ending began when the Falcons, trailing 20-17, drove down the field looking as if they were going to come out with a late touchdown and take this game away from the Raiders. 

With the ball on the 15-yard line and momentum favoring Fairfield, senior defensive back Tyler Washburn picked off a pass at the goal line and was tackled at the one. 

The offense picked up only a couple of yards in the next three plays but burned through all of Fairfield’s time-outs and milked the clock down to 10 seconds. A planned safety on the punt burned another three seconds when senior quarterback Keilen Gilbert ran out of the end zone. 

Then, punter Donovan Grenz nailed a 53-yard free kick from the 20-yard line. However, after bobbling the ball at his own 27, Fairfield receiver Josh Tucker found an open lane and made it back to the 12-yard line before being tackled as time expired. 

“After the safety, we punted the ball away, and he almost took it back and scored,” said Grenz, a senior who also starts at linebacker.

It was safe to say that the team and the audience was on the edge of their seats during the return, but luckily the Raiders were able to stop him from scoring and won the game.

Going into the first half the Raiders were winning 13-3. Both of those touchdowns were from freshman running back Thorne Watson.

“The best play of the game was from Thorne Watson, he scored his first touchdown on a 45-yard screen pass and he is only a freshman,” said Grenz. 

Coming back from the break the Falcons returned a kickoff 99 yards for their first touchdown. Rio answered with a touchdown pass from Gilbert to senior Ryan Voss.  Fairfield scored again shortening the lead to 20-17, before the wild ending.

The planned safety wasn’t the first time the Raiders have run that play this year. In a similar situation against Del Campo, Grenz saw an opening and tried to run for a first down rather than take the safety. He was tackled on the 8-yard line, leading to the Raiders needing to break up a pass in the endzone on the final play to preserve a 14-7 victory.

Rio’s victory was a team effort. In addition to his goalline interception, Washburn added two tackles and five assists. Senior Chase Carry added three solo tackles and one assist, while senior Addison Mabry had five solos and an assist. 

On offense, Watson, sophomore Trace Kloss and junior receiver Alex Wallace led the team in total yards. 


This upcoming week the Raiders will take on a rival school once again, the Vista Del Lago Eagles. Vista (9-1) played against the Raiders earlier this season, winning 41-15, handing the team their first loss of the season.

Coaches who have been a main reason why the team is doing so well, believe Rio can win on Friday. 

“The will to push harder and compete has driven our season success. varsity running back coach Yonnie Langham said. “I look forward to seeing how we finish because the start has been amazing.” 

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