Yucaipa’s homecoming ceremony includes fireworks and jubilation

A very excited Jade Philips is announced 2019 Yucaipa High School homecoming queen and celebrates with king Ryan Grinnals.

When the Yucaipa High School football team jumped out to a 7-0 lead in its homecoming game last Friday it looked like easy victory might be in the bag. However, Silverado (1-5) ended up spoiling the party by scoring the next six touchdowns and cruised to a 42-7 nonleague win. YHS drops to 1-4 as it prepares for Citrus Belt League action at Citrus Valley tonight (Oct. 4). Silverado improved to 1-5.

YHS took its early lead after quarterback Casey Graf completed passes of 35 yards, 22 yards to set up his nine-yard touchdown pass to David Fisher. Tied at 7-7 with two minutes left in the half, the game turned Silverado’s way even though Yucaipa’s prospects looked good after Fisher returned a kickoff 70 yards. Three runs by teammate Haiden Smith moved the ball to the Hawks 10-yard line. However, two plays later Silverado intercepted near its own goal line where it quickly capitalized with a 55-yard pass from Jessie Murillo to Devin Gandy to make it 14-7.

The Thunderbirds were able to limit the Hawks for the most part but were vulnerable to big plays. Rushing behind effective blocking, Silverado’s Jaishawn Wright scored on runs of 78 and 62 yards. Running mate Jawan Howard ran for three touchdowns. The two combined for 261 yards rushing. Murillo threw for 205 yards with six completions going to Ganty good for 172 yards. Smith led YHS in rushing with 40 yards on 18 carries.

Yucaipa’s Fisher was off to his best ever game until he was limited in the second half by a leg problem. Fisher accumulated all of his 210 multi-purpose yards in the first half, including nine receptions for 122 yards. The strong armed Graf finished with a respectable 16-of-25 passing for 173 yards. He was intercepted twice deep in Silverado territory. His backup, Kaleb Stamps showed versatility by also catching three passes for 30 yards. Transfer quarterback Elijah James is expected to start tonight at Citrus Valley. James, a junior played for Citrus Valley last season.

YHS coach Justin Price said that James earned the starting quarterback spot in summer workouts but has not been eligible because of the California Interscholastic Federation's five game sit-out rule for those transferring to another school. “One guy won’t change anything,” warned Price. “I could not find a positive offensively tonight. We’ll get back to work and practice the same way. Whether it will show on Friday night remains to be seen.”

Junior linebacker Dylan Stevens was active for the Thunderbirds throughout, with nine tackles and a sack.

Yucaipa lineman Brandon Hernandez says the team will forget the Silverado game “like it never happened.”

Still wearing his helmet well after the game, Hernandez said his team has a good coaching staff, “But some kids you just can't teach.” He thinks most are playing as individuals and have not come together as a team. “We’ll figure something out.”

Price thinks the team remains competitive because of Hernandez, a Boise State recruit, and R.J. Taylor, who will play at Nevada.

Silverado’s win at Yucaipa was rewarding for first year coach Keron Jones, who recalled the Thunderbirds 35-31 win in Victorville last season. YHS scored three times in the last four minutes including Graf's recovery of an onside kick with two minutes left. "If we recovery that onside kick we win," said Jones, the defensive coordinator last year. "We simplified things tonight and challenged our kids."

The game was delayed nearly an hour due to numerous injuries to Silverado players. Bernadette Smith was taken by ambulance to an undisclosed hospital with an undisclosed injury. Four others were helped off the field and did not return to the game.

The 2019 YHS Homecoming Court includes King Ryan Grinnals and Queen Jade Philips; Senior Court: Nolan Vasquez and Heather Toms; Kelan Cavanaugh and Ava Saylor; Junior Prince Jeremy Osuna, Junior Princess Angela Gerber; Sophomore Price Brockton Smith; Sophomore Princess Llany Johnson; Freshman Prince Nicholas Juarez and Freshman Princess Selah Gutierrez.

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