Mere hours after defeating South Lake Tahoe 40-34 in overtime Friday night, the El Dorado football team was at the track to run off soreness from its first preaseason game.
“The kids are invested in this program,” Cougar coach Joe Volek said “We started preparing in January and when you invest that much time winning is important.”
Although the win was ugly, according to Volek a ‘W’ is a ‘W.’ “It was our first game and we still have growing pains,” he said. “Sky Mote (the El Dorado soldier recently killed in action) was on my first winning track team at Union Mine. He was a great kid; I felt like he was there with us Friday night.”
The Cougars led the Vikings the entire game, scoring their first touchdown on a 9-yard corner pass at the 9:22 mark from sophomore quarterback Nick Bonniksen to Clayton Van Duyn. Sam McCrea’s point after split the uprights for a key point as South Tahoe answered two minutes later on a 67-yard pass and run. The Cougars blocked the kick and on the ensuing kick-off, Van Duyn took the ball, juked a couple of would-be tacklers and raced for a 95-yard touchdown. El Dorado led 15-6.
But riding a seemingly comfortable 34-18 lead with less than five minutes left in the game, the contest unraveled for El Dorado. South Tahoe scored twice — first on a 31-yard aerial with 4:12 left, and again on a 22-yard catch in the end zone with 43 ticks on the clock. The Vikings’ 2-point conversions after both touchdowns tied it at 34-34.
The Cougars couldn’t punch it across in the time remaining thanks to costly penalties and three incomplete passes, sending the game into overtime. After the coin toss the Vikings set up at the 10 but fumbled on the first play. Dakota Gautier pounced on the loose ball, turning possession over to the Cougars.
El Dorado took over at the same 10-yard line but lost 10 yards on a fumble of its own. After Van Duyn hauled in a 6-yarder the Cougars lined up for a 31-yard field goal attempt but couldn’t convert. After each team has a shot at scoring, the process starts again in reverse order sending the Cougar offense back on the field for the next series.
This time the Placerville team made it count as Bonniksen floated a picture perfect pass over the middle to Caleb Melton for a touchdown. The PAT was blocked but the Cougars were back on top by six.
“I saw it coming and knew I had to catch it,” Melton said. “It was an unbelievable feeling. There was no way we let ourselves get down after South Tahoe scored. This is a new Cougar team.”
The Vikings seemingly tied it with a 7-yard pass on their next series but the receiver was called for pushing off, negating the score. Two incomplete passes later, the game was over and the Cougars had their first win of the 2012 season.
South Tahoe made it a 15-12 game in the second quarter but less than a minute after halftime Bonniksen scored on a 4-yard keeper. Again the Vikings answered within a couple of minutes to keep it close. But after Van Duyn’s 59-yard touchdown reception and Bonniksen’s 1-yard dive for six more with 8:14 left in the game, El Dorado appeared to be in the driver’s seat … until South Tahoe mounted its late comeback.