By Chris Tobolski
The Orange County Register
PLACENTIA - Questions remained about the
health of Valencia running back Wes Fletcher´s left ankle before Saturday
night´s game against Loara. The senior wasn´t on the field for the team´s first
series, but soon made his presence felt. Showing no signs of the ankle slowing
him, Fletcher rushed for four touchdowns and finished with 168 yards in
Valencia´s victory over Loara, 29-14, in the start of Empire League play at
rain-soaked Valencia High.
"I didn´t know if I would be back today," Fletcher said. "The first play is always the worst. The ankle felt well." Fletcher scored from 2 yards out just after halftime to give Valencia a 15-14 lead. After forcing the Saxsons to punt, Valencia (4-2, 1-0) again turned to Fletcher. His 3-yard touchdown extended the margin to 22-14. Loara (1-5, 1-0) opened the fourth quarter by driving inside Valencia´s 10. But a fumble ended the drive at the 9.
Anthony Bautista´s 2-yard rushing touchdown had given the Saxons an early 7-0 lead. Valencia fought back to take a 9-7 advantage. However, Marcus Meraz connected with Patrick Boyle on an 8-yard pass and Loara took a 14-9 lead into halftime.
The game was delayed for 20 minutes four plays in when Valencia´s Kelii Jackson was taken off the field on a stretcher by paramedics. Jackson could be seen moving his arms and legs as he was wheeled off. He returned to the sideline in the forth quarter, still in uniform, but he didn´t play anther down. He returned to the sideline in the fourth quarter, still in uniform, but he didn´t play another down. "That´s my good friend," Fletcher said. "I´m glad he´s back. This game was dedicated to him."
Friday night and Saturday´s rain made playing conditions sloppy. The field was muddy, as were as the sidelines. Each team lost a fumble.