David Fisher received six touchdown passes from Elijah James and Gavin Mink kicked a game-clinching 44 yard field goal to lead the Yucaipa High School football team past visiting Redlands East Valley 52-35 in a thrilling Citrus Belt League contest last Friday. Fisher finished the night by catching 16 passes for 312 yards. At defensive back he made three touchdown saving plays.
The two schools had a combined 1-13 record going into the contest but the game allowed each team to showcase its exceptional individual talents. After REV’s Brandon Wells returned a punt 80 yards to get his team within 42-35 with six minutes left in the game, the outcome was still very much in doubt. YHS improved to 2-6 (1-3 CBL).
When asked about his big play-making performance, Fisher acknowledged, “By watching them on film I knew the game would be special. I knew we’d do great. We play Redlands next and our confidence is going up.” All-time school records are not accessible but it’s thought Fisher’s offensive totals are YHS records.
The tone was set early when Kaden Pistelli scored on Yucaipa’s first possession. His three-yard run made it 6-0. Gavin Mink’s perfect night included making 7-of-7 extra points. Running behind the “Dangerous Duo” of Division 1 College recruits R.J. Taylor and Brandon Hernandez, Pistilli bulled his way to 78 yards on 19 carries.
The two good-sized offensive linemen both said they asserted themselves early. “We realize what we are capable of and we took away their will early.” With three games left in the regular season and just a slim chance of continuing into the post season, the Dangerous Duo agreed to play for more than just pride in the final games of their high school career. “When our defense comes together then everything else will, too.” The Yucaipa defense made important stops but remains susceptible to the big play.
REV (0-8) answered almost every time the Thunderbirds appeared to be putting the game out of reach. YHS made the most of its opportunities by converting four interceptions by REV quarterback Jeramiah Donahue. The most costly seemed to occur after Jackson Beamish’s interception that led to Fisher’s 34 yard reception that gave YHS a 35-21 lead with 15 seconds left in the half.
Fisher accumulated his record-setting stats by scoring on pass receptions of 35, 22, 59, 48, 49 and 34 yards. Along with Beamish’s pick, Fisher benefitted from interceptions by teammates Daniel Romero, Jacob Garcia, and Justin Stevens. Elijah James, a junior also had a career game by completing 25-of-32 attempts for 399 yards, six touchdowns and an interception. James also rushed for 51 yards on 13 carries. Kaleb Stamps caught five of those passes for 45 yards.
“James did all that in just his third varsity game. He’s starting to show what we expected of him,” said YHS coach Justin Price, who called Fisher’s performance, “One that every little kid dreams about and he’s only just beginning to reach a little peak of his potential.” Price said the back-and-forth battle with REV was a game that no one will forget. “It will be remembered as legendary.”
James exclaimed, “Wow. Legendary. That’s a big statement. I felt one hundred percent better tonight but it takes the whole team and we're all starting to click.” James directed the Thunderbirds on a 96-yard, third quarter scoring drive, set up by Romero’s interception. It gave YHS a 42-21 lead. James capped a 70-yard drive with the 35-yard completion to Fisher. His 34-yard swing pass to Fisher came on a fourth down to make it 52-35 with 27 seconds left. James led YHS on another 70-yard drive in the second quarter.
Brandon Wells helped REV stay close by scoring on consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter to get the Wildcats within 42-35. Daylan Acevedo scored REV’s first touchdown on a 95 yard kickoff return. Their other touchdowns came on 75 yard and 22 yard passes from Jeramiah Donahue to Garry O’brien. Donahue threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns.