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Palm Springs returns to football playoffs with convincing road victory

The Desert Sun (Palm Springs) logo The Desert Sun (Palm Springs) 11/2/2019 By Judd Spicer, Special to The Desert Sun
a football player holding a football ball on a field: Jaden McCray of Palm Springs runs for a first down against Shadow Hills, November 1, 2019. © Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun Jaden McCray of Palm Springs runs for a first down against Shadow Hills, November 1, 2019.

With locks on one side of the ball and a load on the other, Palm Springs made a convincing case for its return to the CIF football playoffs Friday night with a 46-14 road win over conference foe Shadow Hills. 

The victory secured a second-place finish in the Desert Empire League for the Indians.

Long-haired defensive menace Casey Libretti was all over the field with a pair of sacks for the victors, while 5-foot-11, 220-pound running back Arieon Capler led the Indians with 151 rushing yards and two ground scores. 

Capler's tally on Friday contributed to a regular season rushing total of 1,129 yards. 

"They ignite the team on both sides of the ball -- Casey on defense and Arieon on offense," said Indians head coach Dan Murphy.  "They're that spark whenever there's a lull, They come up with the big plays and everybody feeds off of that."

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The Indians --  winners of five of their past six games and the sixth-ranked team in Division 9 -- missed the postseason in 2018 and are seeking their first playoff win since 2015.  

"The seniors weren't going to miss out on the playoffs, and they took it upon themselves. It's been businesslike at practices, and we've gotten better each week.  It's a special group, and these seniors didn't want to be denied," Murphy said. "This team is capable of so much.

"To be successful in the playoffs, we need to reach that for four quarters, and I believe that they can. They're hungry. I hope that we're in the playoffs now, as these kids have rallied around each other.  The sky's the limit."

Leading 22-14 with under five minutes to play in the third quarter, Palm Springs steamrolled the rest of the way.

a football player holding a football ball: Jason Roberts of Palm Springs catches a touchdown pass against Shadow Hills, November 1, 2019. © Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun Jason Roberts of Palm Springs catches a touchdown pass against Shadow Hills, November 1, 2019.

"We get after it in practice every day with full pads.  We've got a smaller roster this year as far as number of players, so we've all bought in together," said Libretti, a senior captain.  "We told each other that this was the group to get us back into the playoffs, and now we just want to make a run."

Added Capler: "We don't have the numbers, we don't have a lot of players, so we've got to work together."

In defeat, the Knights were led by two touchdowns and 192 rushing yards from standout back Jaden Donovan. The senior concluded his stellar season with 1,836 rushing yards and 23 TDs.

Shadow Hills (4-6, 1-4 DEL) saw its season conclude, while Palm Springs (6-4) now awaits the CIF-SS playoff announcement at noon Sunday.  

a group of men playing a game of baseball: Palm Springs quarterback Isaiah Goad throws against Shadow Hills, November 1, 2019. © Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun Palm Springs quarterback Isaiah Goad throws against Shadow Hills, November 1, 2019.

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Palm Springs returns to football playoffs with convincing road victory

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