On December 5, the Fallbrook Pop Warner Jr. Midget Warriors travelled to Lake Havasu, Ariz. for the River Bowl 2009 game against the Lake Havasu Chiefs (8-2). The Lake Havasu team was the Arizona Conference Champion and was one game away from playing for a National Championship bid in Florida.
The Chiefs took the opening kickoff to the Warrior 30-yard line, and quickly marched in for the score. The Warriors answered with a long 10 play drive, ending with Enrique Barreto’s touchdown on a speed sweep thanks to great blocking by Steve Branham and Zeke Young to tie the game.
Alex McCarty and Young made key fumble recoveries, but two Warrior touchdowns by Josiah Gonzales and Aaron Brassard were called back on penalties. The rest of the first half, the Warriors defense led by Barreto, Gonzales, JD Pickell, Brooks Albright and Burch Anson, stiffened and stopped the bigger Lake Havasu team and the first half ended in a 6-6 tie.
On the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, a counter play that had been set up by big running plays to Mark Reina, allowed Brassard to score from 75 yards out thanks to blocking by Jeff Mangold, Tony Perez, Branham and Young.
Not to be outdone, the Chiefs came back and tied the game at 12 apiece. On their next possession, the Chiefs were threatening to take the lead, but on a crucial 4th and 1 at the Warrior 30-yard line, defensive linemen Misha Johnson and Gabe Westall broke through the line and stopped the Chiefs for a 2-yard loss giving the ball back to the Warriors with 3:28 left in the third quarter.
The Warrior offense methodically moved the ball until Pickell hit Brassard for a touchdown on a pass and run as a result of the effective pass blocking of Jeff Menard and Cy Calloway as well as a key downfield block by Logan Hofrichter.
The Chiefs threatened to once again tie the game when Barreto sacked the Chief’s quarterback for a huge loss on 4th down that demoralized the Chiefs and gave the ball back to the Warriors. The offensive line led by center Cody Meyer, Branham and Mangold led to another long touchdown run for Brassard and the Warriors sealed the game on yet another long pass from Pickell to Brassard.
Lake Havasu made a final effort to score, but they were snuffed out by the defense led by Reina and Johnson for a final score of 34-12. Anson contributed four points on two point conversions.
On November 14, the Warriors defeated rival Oceanside by a score of 32-0 at the Fallbrook Invitational Tournament at Warrior Stadium. The final record for the Fallbrook Jr. Midget Warriors was 10-2-1. Head Coach Mark Welsh said he was “very proud of his boys.”