Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 | 11:20 p.m.
The Chaparral High football team’s 32-18 win over visiting Eldorado in the annual Cleat Game on Friday night was one year in the making.
The preparation started last fall when the Cowboys lost to Eldorado in the storied series. The schools celebrated their 50 anniversary tonight, and playing each other is always one of the highlights of the season.
“The cleat’s back home,” Chaparral coach Don Willis said.
Chaparral led 18-0 at halftime and 32-0 at the end of the third quarter. When the clock hit zero, players celebrated with the trophy — a bronzed cleat NFL Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen donated to the rivalry.
“I had never lost the cleat since I came to Chaparral. It was a shock to my system,” Willis said. “Our kids were excited to get it back. It was something we had set our eyes on since last season.”
One of the highlights of the evening came at halftime, when the Chaparral players were greeted with a chorus of cheers from alumni when jogging to the locker room. The school invited graduates from all classes back for the homecoming to celebrate its 50 years of existence.
“That was special,” Willis said.
Ioane Tauiliili had a pair of touchdowns for Chaparral, while Davon Williams and Jayleen Brown also scored.
Eldorado stored back with three late passing touchdowns to make things interesting — a comeback Willis was expecting. He praised the opposition for their efforts.
“Coach (Darryl) Tootle is building a good program over (at Eldorado),” Willis said. “Those kids played hard.”