New Running Back, Four Interceptions Lead Tigers To Victory

Inderkum JV coach Terrance Leonard celebrates with Rodney Haymer after the team beat River Valley 15-14 on a touchdown with no time left in the game.  

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Give Terry Stark a football and 100 yards and he will find a running back.

For the better part of two decades, Stark, the head coach for Inderkum, has been the head of some of the most prolific running attacks with his wing-T offense in the region.

And on Inderkum High School’s Senior Night, in the final regular season home, Stark called on the services of sophomore Austin Thurman from the junior varsity team to help with an injury depleted back field. And help he did.

Thurman, less than a week removed from the JV squad, led the Tigers with 91 yards rushing as Inderkum’s defense blanked River Valley 21-0 in a match up of two of the top teams in the Tri-County Conference.

“To come up and play with them, it felt good,” Thurman said. “It was a faster pace.”

The Tigers, now (6-2 overall, 2-1TCC) are tied for second place with River Valley in the conference and have momentum going into the final two weeks of the regular season. Yuba City defeated Woodland on Friday night to remain undefeated in TCC action.

Off to a slow start on offense and already stopped at the one-yard line by River Valley in the second quarter, Inderkum got on the board first on a double reverse to senior Josh Montes for a 16-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead at halftime.

Montes, who was sidelined himself for the first half of the season due to injuries, rushed for 82 yards and the lone rushing touchdown for the Tigers.

Inderkum is already playing without 2011 leading rusher DJ Myart this season. And this year’s leading rusher Eric Walters, who was in a walking boot, was missed Friday night.

But in Stark fashion, he found another back in his stable.

“We have backs, but how many teams can have 10?” Stark said. “That’s basically it. We’ve gone through six or seven of our running backs.”

On the other side of the ball, the Tigers also got a bit healthier with the additions of sophomores NJ Falo and Jabar Hailey that helped the Tigers find what Stark said was a missing piece so far this season—toughness.

“In the past it was like 11 fast guys that you couldn’t get away from,” Stark said. “But this year we have been fast, but we didn’t have that desire early in the year to get to the football. But when you get hit in the mouth a couple of times, you realize something has got to change.”

The front seven on defense led by Falo, Hailey, Dedric Allen, Kevin Blueford and Dylan Akins contained a potent rushing game by River Valley that averaged 54 points in the last three games—forcing quarterback Mark Nelson into long passes most of the night.

And the secondary for Inderkum stepped up, intercepting a season-high four passes, two by junior Tyler Dean. Fellow junior Terence White intercepted a pass on fourth and long that ended a drive for River Valley in the first half and senior Kris Sapp had an interception.

“They are young,” Stark said. “At the beginning of the year they were playing too loose and too soft or at times too close. They didn’t know if they were coming or going. But through all of the game reps and experience and the coaching—it is really big in the games because it is live.”

Now two weeks removed from the first TCC loss in over half a decade, the Tigers are back on a two-game win streak with two games left in the regular season, including a season finale at neighborhood rival Natomas High School.

Stark hopes his young team has finally come together. The Tigers gave up just six points to Woodland last week before shutting out River Valley on Friday.

“It feels good because we had to work hard in both of them,” Stark said. “The Woodland game wasn’t easy, and this game wasn’t easy. Teams play good defense against us. We have lost some speed on offense, so we have to grind it out more.”

Junior quarterback CJ Spencer also connected on two passing touchdowns in the second half for Inderkum. The first going to junior Khalil Hudson and the second to sophomore Larry Hardy.

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