ROYAL CITY — Warden football clinched their playoff berth, coming out on top in the Kansas City Tiebreaker against River View and Kiona-Benton at Royal High School on Monday night.
Due to a three-way tie for third place in the SCAC East division, the three teams met, with each side facing off with three possessions starting at the 25-yard line. The Cougars opened up the night against River View to kick things off.
Warden got the ball first, with Holden Haworth capping off the first drive with a 3-yard run for the score to put the Cougars up 6-0. River View was forced into a field goal attempt on their first drive, which came up short and wide.
On the Cougars’ next possession, Ryan Arredondo connected with Edgar Hernandez on the first play of the drive for the score to give Warden the 14-0 edge. With their backs against the wall, River View was able to drive down before a fumble inside the 3-yard line cut the possession short and gave Warden the victory in the opening matchup, cementing a playoff berth.
In the next matchup, the Cougars faced a familiar opponent in Ki-Be, after defeating the Bears 29-18 on Friday night in Warden. Warden started with the ball again to open things up, driving inside the ten. On third-and-seven, the Cougars connected on a pass from Arredondo to Ayzaiah Pruneda for the score to go up 8-0.
The Bears were able to power down the field on their first possession behind a steady rushing attack, capping off the drive with a 2-yard rushing touchdown to even the game at 8-8.
On its second possession, Warden was again able to move the ball, with Haworth scoring his second touchdown of the night to put the Cougars back in front, 14-8. Ki-Be was able to again drive down with ease, scoring their second-straight rushing touchdown. After the failed 2-point conversion the game remained tied at 14-14.
The Cougars drove down on their third possession before being held up ten yards outside the end zone. On third-and-nine, Arredondo was able to find his man as Haworth put the Cougars in front, but by only six after the failed 2-point conversion.
On the final possession, the Bears drove down the field for a third-straight time behind a power rushing approach, finding themselves with first-and-goal on the 2-yard line. Just outside the end zone, the Cougar defense rose to the occasion, holding the Ki-Be attack out for four straight plays to seal the victory and take the third-place seed.
Warden head coach Robert Arredondo talked last week about the struggles the team was facing a month ago, saying that everyone was counting them out. He said they never lost sight of their goal.
With their play, winning two crucial games over the last two weeks, Robert Arredondo liked the momentum his team had heading into the tiebreaker and said it all came down to how much the players wanted it.
“In these type of things right here, tough guys win it,” Robert Arredondo said. “X’s and O’s go out the window and toughness wins it.”
Building more momentum off the victories tonight, Robert Arredondo said he couldn’t be prouder of his guys right now.
On short notice, having just played against Kiona-Benton on Friday night, He said it all came down to emotion.
“There’s no other way to prepare for this other than emotion,” Robert Arredondo said. “You can think what they’re gonna do, but you just gotta be tough. And it’s all pure emotion.”
With the win, the Cougars will now face Zillah on Friday for a chance to go on in the 1A State Tournament. Robert Arredondo said their opponent is a tough team filled with athletes, much like his own, but getting to go to work tomorrow is all they wanted.
“We’ll watch tons of film, pick out who their horses are and prepare all night and all day, that’s it,” he said.