WARDEN — Warden picked up a crucial win for its postseason hopes on Friday night, defeating Kiona-Benton 29-18.
The Cougars opened up a lead early in the first quarter, as Ryan Arredondo connected with his receiver on a 45-yard strike to put Warden up 8-0 early. The Bears drove on their next drive, finding their way down near the goal line, before a fumble gave the ball back to the Cougars as the drive was cut short.
Into the second quarter, Arredondo connected with Edgar Hernandez on fourth down for the 17-yard touchdown to give the Cougars the 15-0 lead with just over nine minutes to play in the first half. Another fumble by Ki-Be gave the Cougars the ball back on the next possession.
Arredondo connected with Ayzaiah Pruneda shortly after the turnover for a 48-yard touchdown to build on the Cougars’ lead, putting the home team up 23-0. The Bears were driving again, until a receiver lost the ball near the goal line with the Cougars recovering to take back over on their own 2-yard line.
Ki-Be was able to keep Warden pinned back, as they took back over and were able to finally connect in the end zone on a 6-yard pass to cut the lead to 23-6 going into halftime.
On their opening drive of the second half, backed up on third-and-long, the Bears struck for a 22-yard sore to pull closer, 23-12. Into the fourth quarter, Ki-Be connected on their third touchdown pass of the game on fourth-and-goal to pull within a touchdown at 23-18 with just over eight minutes to play.
On the following kickoff, Holden Haworth took it all the way to the house to put the Cougars ahead by double-digits again, 29-18. The Cougars were able to hold on as they took the win to move closer toward a spot in the postseason.
Warden head coach Robert Arredondo said after the game, on Senior Night, that the upperclassmen’s leadership really showed in the win.
“We’d had some ‘look in the mirror’ speeches, starting with the staff, starting with myself,” Robert Arredondo said. “Ki-Be’s tough, but our kids found a way to dig deep down and find a win. And it’s a big deal for these kids.”
With another win in a row, the Warden head coach said it’s always nice to have that winning momentum heading into the postseason.
“We’ve had two big, big wins,” Robert Arredondo said. “About a month ago, it didn’t look too good. But, right now we’re about as high as we can be, so huge momentum going in.”
Robert Arredondo said his whole group played well to pick up the big win in the final regular season game this fall. On senior night, he said a lot of these players have been with him since he coached them in fifth and sixth grade.
“You see them grow and now they’re young men,” Robert Arredondo said. “It tugs on your heart, obviously, but they’re a great group of young men, and I’m happy to be able to lead them and coach them.”
The Warden head coach has also had the opportunity to coach his son, Ryan, who watches as much, if not more, film than he does.
“He’s a real student of the game,” Robert Arredondo said. “It’s interesting, and a peculiar thing living in the same house, but it’s a good deal and I’m proud.”
The Cougars find themselves in a three-way tie in the SCAC and will play in a Kansas City tiebreaker today, 6 p.m., at Royal High School to determine playoff seeding.