Woodburn football perfect in season debut
If a football team is looking to make a statement in its season opener, they need look no further than Woodburn. The Bulldogs turned in a hugely impressive 35-0 victory over the visiting Klamath Union Pelicans on Friday, Sept. 3, to start the season unbeaten.
While it was undoubtedly a team performance, with the offensive line making room for the receiving and rushing corps to work, there was a standout player for Woodburn in the game. Senior Tomas Veliz recorded four touchdowns over the course of his time on the field, three rushing and one through the air, to put the Pelicans away late.
Veliz's TD reception was even sweeter because it came from younger brother and freshman backup quarterback Cruz Veliz. The younger Veliz hit his older sibling down the middle for a wide open 53-yard-touchdown pass at the 2:11 mark of the fourth quarter to leave no doubt who the better team was.
"(Senior quarterback) Kaleb (Robles) had done a great job with it for us all night," Woodburn head coach Ken Mace said. "We don't have a JV game, Cruz is getting reps defensively, let's throw him in a series and see what he can do. We called the play knowing Cruz can run, and said, 'If it's not open just run and milk the clock.' Sure enough, they bit on the play action and Tomas was just wide open. That was something special."
Tomas Veliz agreed.
"It's exciting … my little brother has been my best friend my whole life, so getting the chance to play with him and get that touchdown was amazing," Veliz said. "But four-touchdown games and personal stats don't matter to me as long as our team won. I just care that we won the game."
Offense was only half the story in the game. The Bulldogs defense made life difficult for Klamath Union, harrying the quarterback when he tried to move around for a pass and hindering the running backs as they attempted to build momentum on the ground. Both Mace and Tomas Veliz credit the defensive coaching staff for getting the team ready for the battle.
"Defensively, you can't complain about a shutout," Mace said. "They don't happen often in football. That's a big deal. We have a really good defensive staff: coach (Isiah) Sexton, coach (Ken) Ellis, coach (Joe) Elsasser. Those guys coach hard and we want to play a physical and aggressive style of football."
"Coach Sexton and the whole defensive staff and the offense give us great looks in practice every day," Tomas Veliz said. "We just executed it well and held them to zero touchdowns."
The other person to score on the night was junior Ty Beyer, who punched in the fourth Woodburn touchdown of the night from two yards out at 4:59 of the fourth quarter. Kicker Santiago Roque was perfect on extra point attempts, going 5-for-5 with some help from the uprights and the helmet of a lineman.
"Our alpha last year was Cole Beyer, and Tomas got to really learn from him," Mace said. "Now Tomas is that alpha, and Cole's brother Ty is getting to learn from Tomas. We're learning and growing together."
Woodburn (1-0) will look to keep up the momentum next Friday, Sept. 10, when they host Valley Catholic (0-1). The Valiants will be looking bounce back from a 52-0 drubbing courtesy of Philomath.
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