WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL — Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are good football teams.
The Washington Eagles will need to find solace in the long run as they continue to trudge their way through a rebuilding season, losing 55-0 on Friday to the California School for the Deaf.
Yet, when the Eagles met at midfield for their postgame discussion, it would have been hard to tell that they had just suffered their second consecutive shutout loss. There were smiles and plenty of recognition of positive plays, even with a lopsided score.
“We’re rebuilding this year, and we’re trying to keep the guys motivated,” first-year head coach Michael Gatmen said. “We’ll keep working hard and eventually we’ll get to where we want to be.”
If they can build up their program to resemble their counterparts, also named the Eagles, they’ll be in good shape. California School for the Deaf (3-2) has been a strong program throughout the decade, lately led by running back Calel Aramboles. The 5-foot-11, 233-pound senior gashed the Washington defense on Friday, reaching the end zone on five of his nine carries and racking up 189 yards.
CSD quarterback Miles Gonzalez connected on 10 of his 17 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown, getting sacked just once, and Leonardo Vergara had three catches for 66 yards, all in the second half. Vergara also closed the game with a 45-yard pick six, with CSD letting the running clock expire instead of kicking an extra point as a sign of sportsmanship.
The CSD defense kept Washington (0-3) off the board thanks largely to Robert Gregor, who had a sack on fourth down and a recovery of a fumble that Levi Biser forced. Jaylen Johnson returned a punt 70 yards for a score to make it 22-0 early in the second quarter as the visitors dominated nearly every facet of the game.
Yet, when Washington was reflecting on the game after the final horn, there was plenty to celebrate.
Running back Jalen Lee ran 19 times for 45 yards and played the entire game on defense, recovering a fumble that he forced by sacking Gonzalez in the first quarter. That, along with a Kenny Phimmasome interception, accounted for the two turnovers that the Eagles forced on the day.
Washington quarterback Steven McKee connected with sophomore Calvin Verner for a fourth-down conversion in the second quarter, by far the best Washington possession of the day. The Eagles chewed up 28 yards on seven plays, and they were on the cusp of the red zone before a fumble on a play that showcased their inexperience thwarted any hopes of scoring. The ball squirted out from McKee and past a pair of linemen who seemed to have no idea it was on the ground before Gregor fell on it and cut the drive short.