Despite winning a CIF Southern Section title last season, the Palm Springs football team didn’t finish the season unblemished. Losses to Murrieta Mesa and La Quinta put a slight damper on an otherwise impressive run.
Four weeks ago, the Indians checked off the first circled game on their calendar, avenging their defeat to Murrieta Mesa, but the Blackhawks still loomed. Palm Springs coach Dan Murphy knew despite the down year La Quinta was experiencing, the Blackhawks would be no pushover.
The Indians would be in for a battle come Oct. 16.
So why not wear camouflage?
Unbeknownst to his players, a month ago Murphy ordered brand-new red and black camo jerseys to wear into battle Friday night at home against the Blackhawks. The Indians warmed up in their traditional black-on-black uniforms before retreating to the locker room about 20 minutes before kickoff to the surprise of new gear.
They certainly looked flashy, but the Indians didn’t need anything extra to take down the Blackhawks handily 42-6, doing their best to erase any doubt of the superior team.
Two weeks after his impressive eight-touchdown performance against Coachella Valley, senior Palm Springs quarterback Will Olvera finished with five scores through the air – two completed to senior wideout Tayler Hawkins, who also scored on an 80-yard kickoff return.
“For the seniors, we want to go undefeated and win state,” Olvera said. “This was the last step cause we beat Murrieta Mesa. This was blemish No. 2 as we called it, and we took care of things, so now it’s time to move on.”
The Indians’ first drive stalled after a 10-yard run from Josh Barlow, showing signs of the team’s offensive struggles a week ago when they scored just 27 against Xavier Prep.
But La Quinta penalties helped kickstart Olvera’s offense the second time around, a drive which ended on a four-yard score through the air to Franklin Miller.
Over the next seven minutes of game time, as lightning began to flicker in the distance, the Indians scored twice more on Olvera passes to Hawkins and Damion Lee, sending the Indians into the locker room with a comfortable 21-0 lead.
Game officials delayed the teams’ return to the field twice as lightning, followed by booming thunder, shook the stands as rain began to flush fans to their cars prematurely.
But the senior-laden Palm Springs crew knew better than to sleep on a Dan Armstrong-coached team with a roster filled with plenty of talent and motivation to put together a comeback.
The Indians put the spare time to good use.
“The coaching staff went in there any made adjustments and kinda kept things in meeting mode,” Murphy said. “We have a lot of senior starters, and they realize the importance of it and even broke into groups by themselves to start going over things.”
Olvera connected with Trenton Thompson on their first drive of the second half on a 49-yard scoring play to stretch the lead.
The Blackhawks fired back with their best drive of the evening, with solid runs from Benji Cordova in particular, who eventually leaped into the end zone on a four-yard scamper.
But Hawkins quickly extinguished any hopes of a Blackhawk comeback, returning the following kickoff for a score nearly untouched, adding the exclamation point on a satisfying victory.
Franklin Miller leaves game with injury scare
On the final play of the first half, Palm Springs senior Franklin Miller tore up the Indians sideline on a 16-yard run. With a Blackhawk defender approaching, Miller did the flashy thing – not the safe thing – and hurdled his opponent, leaving him defenseless to a second oncoming blow that sent him to the turf hard.
Miller missed the rest of the game, hobbling around on crutches during the second half. He said after the game he plans to get an MRI early next week to learn the full extent of the injury, but Murphy said he and his coaching staff feared he may have torn his ACL.
“I definitely said a little prayer. That’s a big part of our offense right there,” Olvera said. “We’ve got some kids out here that like to show off their athleticism …They’re really, really athletic, so sometimes they get a little carried away, and they’ve got to be careful because these other guys are out here trying to take them out of the game.”
PALM SPRINGS 42, LA QUINTA 6
(PS): Will Olvera 4-yard pass to Franklin Miller
(PS): Will Olvera 22-yard pass to Tayler Hawkins
(PS): Will Olvera 33-yard pass to Damion Lee
(PS): Will Olvera 49-yard pass to Trenton Thompson
(LQ): Benji Cordova 4-yard run (PAT no good)
(PS): Tayler Hawkins 80-yard kickoff return
(PS): Will Olvera 4-yard pass to Tayler Hawkins
RUSHING (Carries-Yds-TD) — PS: Barlow 14-73, McGuire 1-(minus 1), Olvera 3-16, Miller 3-14, Thompson 1-6, Reyes-Foster 2-2, Beltran 1-5. LQ: Kennedy 8-32, Cordova 13-92-1, Anderson 7-42, Sanchez 6-19, Garcia 4-19.
PASSING (Comp.-Att- INT—TD- Yds) — PS: Olvera 9-15-0-5-165. LQ: Garcia 3-9-1-0-13.
RECEIVING (Rec.-Yds-TD) — PS: Miller 2-4-1, Thompson 2-75-1, Hawkins 4-64-2, Lee 1-33-1. LQ: Kasten 1-5, Mello 1-6, Cabrera 1-2.