A lengthy bus ride and cold, drizzling rain did little to dampen the competitive spirts of Henkle Middle School football players last week.
The Grizzlies traveled up the I-5 corridor Oct. 3 to play ball against their counterparts from Woodland Middle School.
Finals scores were: Woodland 7th-graders 18, Henkle 7th-graders 7; Henkle 8th-graders 8, Woodland 7th-graders 6.
Henkle's seventh-graders (2-1 on the season), led by the standout play of Taylor Champion, Nick Franklin, Travis Sears and Erik Viramontes, battled Woodland all the way.
But cold rain and a broken finger hampered the efforts of quarterback Darnell Douglas, who played well despite his injury.
In the final issue, the Grizzlies' tough defensive stands, blocked extra-points and heartfelt play could not overcome their fumbles, inconsistent line play and some questionable officiating.
Henkle's eighth-graders (2-0-1 this season) pulled out the win in the final minute of the game.
On the Grizzlies' final drive, quarterback Robbie Kloster lofted a pass to Dominic Yeager, who made a Pro Bowl catch at the 10-yard line.
That set up a solid scoring run by fullback Joey Stokes with 29 seconds remaining. Jose Barajas' two-point conversion made the final difference.
Henkle's defense preserved the victory, shutting down the stunned Trojans' final attempts.