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FOOTBALL: Sparks has strong debut as Corona hammers Elsinore

Corona High Varsity vs Elsinore HS on 8/28/2015 7:00:00 PM
Posted Wednesday, September 02, 2015 by Steve Hill

FOOTBALL: Sparks has strong debut as Corona hammers Elsinore



CORONA – Jake Sparks had his junior season come to an end because of a concussion, but Corona's new quarterback quickly made up for lost time in his first varsity start on Friday.

Sparks, a senior, completed 21 of 30 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Panthers to a 63-35 nonleague victory. Sparks also gained 79 yards on the ground.

“This was a really important summer for me,” said Sparks, who was the JV quarterback in 2014 until the injury. “I give it up to my line and receivers. We've been working real hard as a team, and I think it's starting to pay off.”

Sparks wasn't the only offensive standout for the Panthers. Junior Malik Walker rushed for 126 yards and scored five touchdowns in the game, all of them coming in the opening half.

“I think the last time I scored five touchdowns in a game was probably in the eight grade,” Walker said. “I'm so thrilled to be a part of this team this season because we've worked hard and stuck it out through tough times.”

Corona finished with 588 yards of total offense, and the 63 points is the most scored by the program in more than 14 years.

“I didn't know if we'd score 63 all season,” Panthers coach Steve Hill said jokingly.

Elsinore actually got off to a fast start Friday, as Anthony Reyes and Justin Davis broke away for long touchdown runs to give the Tigers a 15-7 lead midway through the first quarter.

Corona took control from there, scoring the next 42 points. Walker scored four touchdowns and Sparks threw scoring passes to Nick Fecarotta and Montre Berry during that decisive 27-minute stretch.

Hill was impressive with the crispness the offense showed, especially since receiversJeremiah Boatner and Ian Sutherland were out because of injuries. Berry finished with 112 yards, and Fecarotta had 105 yards.

"This team has been through a lot of adversity over the past couple of years, so games like this are important for us as team-builders," Hill said. "We still have a long way to go."

Elsinore made a charge in the second half, but couldn't cut the deficit below 21 points. Nick Naranjo had a 92-yard kickoff return for the Tigers, and Reyes later added a 37-yard touchdown catch from Marc Castro-Muniz.

Corona's defense recovered four fumbles in the game and the special teams unit set up a pair of touchdowns after blocked punts.


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