The California Pintos football team's season came to an end Oct. 30 after a 34-21 loss to the Boonville Pirates in its first round game of the Class 3 District 4 Tournament. The Pintos end the year with a record of 6-4, their best record since the 2015-16 season, when they ended the year with the same record.
While the season ended in a tough loss, it was a year of big improvement for the Pintos. Last year's team finished with a record of 1-9. Head coach Derek Scroggins said the team can take away a lot from this season.
"I think that what they were able to achieve probably exceeded a lot of people's expectations, but it did not exceed their own," Scroggins said. "They got to see the benefit of working hard, and I think they got to see the improvements they can make and they brought pride back to Pintos football."
The Pintos struck first when Calen Kruger connected with Dawson Gump for a quick pass that Gump then ran 60 yards down the Pintos' sideline to score the first touchdown of the game and give California a 6-0 lead, after the extra point attempt went off an upright, with 2:03 left in the first quarter.
The score stayed the same until the second quarter, when Drake Schlup scored on a short touchdown run to make it 13-0 with 9:07 left in the first half. Boonville found itself with good field position after the following kickoff, with the ball around midfield. The Pirates took advantage as they moved down the field and scored on a one-yard touchdown run to make it 13-7 with 6:03 left in the first half.
The Pintos looked to answer on their next possession as they got into the red zone with less than two minutes to go, but California turned the ball over on downs. Boonville then drove to inside Pintos' territory, but a deep pass toward the endzone was intercepted by Kruger near the Pintos' three-yard line with less than 30 seconds to go in the half. California entered halftime still up 13-7.
Boonville found some success early in the second half as the Pirates scored on their first possession of the half to take a 14-13 lead on another one-yard run with 7:17 left in the third quarter. Momentum started to shift in Boonville's favor from here, as the Pintos could not get anything going on their next possession. Boonville scored again after getting the ball back to make it a 21-13 game with 4:24 left in the quarter. On the following Pintos' possession, a pass by Kruger was intercepted and Boonville took over at California's' 19-yard line. Two plays later, Boonville scored again to make it 27-13 with 3:08 left in the quarter.
Boonville's defense continued to create problems for California in the fourth quarter, including a second interception that gave the Pirates the ball in the redzone. The Pirates converted the turnover into another score to make it 34-13 with 3:17 left in the game. The Pintos fought back, as they cut into the lead a little bit when Kruger threw his second touchdown of the game to make it 34-21 with 2:05 left in the game. Nevertheless, Boonville recovered the Pintos' ensuing onside kick attempt and was able to run out the clock.
Scroggins said the Pintos were not able to execute on offense in the second half in the way that they needed to.
For the players who will be back next season, Scroggins said he hopes this loss will continue to motivate them in the future.
"I hope they end up seeing how much it hurts to have their season end, especially for the seniors, and it continues to motivate them," Scroggins said. "That way, they keep working in the weight room, and they keep improving as much as they had improved over the last year."