Stephen R. Sylvanie / SPECIAL TO THE SUN
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 | 1 a.m.
Canyon Springs’ senior kicker Cesar Rodriguez lined up for a 30-yard field goal with his team trailing by three late in the fourth quarter.
He had already missed an extra point earlier in the game, prompting his coach to try for two-point conversions on the next two scores, and he hadn’t kicked in nearly an hour.
But Rodriguez made the field goal to tie the game, and he would be called on again only moments later.
“This is a dream come true,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a dream for any kicker and I couldn’t have done it without my holder, my snapper and my o-line."
The second-year kicker had never attempted or made a game-winning field goal in his life.
“The first one was tough because it was a breakthrough from the first missed one,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of times I get nervous, but this time it seemed too good to be true. I took advantage of the moment.”
The moment never would have happened if his coach hadn’t trusted him despite his rough start.
“Every day he just practices,” Canyon Springs coach Gus McNair said. “When the team is going through everything Cesar constantly practices. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Man all you’re doing is kicking field goals why don’t you work on kicking off the tee sometimes?” Now I understand why — because he has perfected his craft.”
It took quite the comeback by the Pioneers to even get into position for Rodriguez to win the game.
Basic led Canyon Springs 23-13 late in the second quarter and outgained the Pioneers 222-146 in the first half.
Canyon Springs rotated Diamante Burton and Dexter Hammond at quarterback in the first half with mixed results.
It was Hammond’s first game back after missing three games with an injury and it showed. He completed 4-of-9 for 65 yards, a touchdown and an interception before Burton took over quarterbacking duties for good in the second half.
Burton completed 13-of-29 for 144 yards and ran for 80 yards and three touchdowns to lift the Pioneers back into the game.
“I’m a dual-threat,” Burton said. “I can run, I can pass and I can just help the team, so that’s why they put me back there.”
“We were in there at halftime and nobody's head was down,” McNair said. “We have faced adversity and we are getting stronger each week. Every time we’re down they don’t get down on themselves and they are fighters. I’m just so proud of them.”
The biggest difference in the second half was the Pioneers' defensive front.
Canyon Springs sacked Basic quarterback Aaron McAllister six times in total and hit him a handful of other times.
“We know Basic can score, but we do an excellent job of playing defense as well,” McNair said. “We wanted to restore the mentality of flying to the ball.”
In the loss, McAllister threw for 264 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and receiver Frank Harris caught 12 passes for 226 yards and both touchdowns.
The 300-pound junior Germaine Carmena led the way with three sacks as the Pioneers defense rose to the occasion, including stopping the Wolves on downs in overtime.
The win brings Canyon Springs' record to 4-1 (4-0 against Nevada opponents) as they face Valley (1-4) next week.
“All we want to do is let people know that C-Springs is for real,” McNair said. “It’s not what anybody else says about us, it’s what we think about ourselves. We know we work hard here and we know what we put in so we just have to come out here and show it.”