The El Dorado High football team fell to Tokay, 29-16 in a close game at the Cougars’ den Friday.
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Slated to be a litmus test for the strength of the Cougars, El Dorado head coach Joe Volek expressed his pride in the play of his players — young men charged with the task of playing a Division I school.
“We learned a lot about the kids tonight,” Volek said. “We learned that our kids are physical, hard-working, won’t quit and will play to the end. I think we had adversity with some tough calls which hurt you, but a great football team has to learn how to take that adversity and make it work.”
El Dorado led 16-13 in the third quarter, but Tokay tied the game at 16-all on a field goal and got two touchdown passes from Kelse DePauli-Wiltse to Allen Ward and Travis Dart.
El Dorado quarterback Nick Bonniksen went 20-for-35 for 107 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Bonniksen’s touchdown pass came on a quick screen dish to junior Sam Osterhout.
Senior Derek Delfino helped El Dorado’s offense moving on the ground and running routes, rushing for 69 yards on five carries and a touchdown. Delfino was also a presence on defense, leading the team with nine tackles from his linebacker spot.
El Dorado (1-1) rushed for 242 yards as a team. Running back Logan Kirby finished with eight carries for 21 yards.
With a strong receiving core and efficient blocking scheme, Tokay (2-0) had multiple weapons at its disposal, as DePauli-Wiltse threw three touchdowns passes.
But El Dorado refused to roll over at any point during the game. Playing assignment football, safety Zach Culp managed to bring down Tigers running back Alex Burgos on a number of last-line tackles. Culp finished with eight tackles on the night, while serving as a contributing receiver and rusher on offense.
The Cougars’ Cody Miller was charged with the daunting task of matching up against towering wide receiver Alan Ward. Outsized on the wing, Miller was undeterred and served as a thorn in Ward’s side throughout the game — frustrating Tokay’s passing game.
“It’s hard to say that having adversity is a positive but this is the kind of adversity we have to grow through to get better,” Volek said. “It’s a team effort, the defensive linemen are taking out the offensive linemen, the linebackers are matching up to take guys out. Sometimes that’s what happens when you’re playing assignment football; a few times they may have had an extra hat on us.
“But I couldn’t be more proud of my kids,” Volek continued. “They battled. They’re physical and we can’t forget that we played a Division I school. If we can continue to improve and work hard we’re going to win games this year.”
Despite the loss, school spirit was in ample supply, as the El Dorado High Class of 1963 — celebrating its 50-year reunion — was brought out at halftime to an ovation from fans.
“The great thing about El Dorado High School is the great tradition we have here,” Volek said. “It was great to see the fans and student body support us the way they did. We just need to put a better product on the field. The coaches and myself are going to take this and go to work on it; continue to improve this program.”