A few surprises at football’s halfway point
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 2:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 2:51 p.m.
Believe it or not Mr. and Mrs. Ripley, this week marks the halfway point of the regular high school football season.
Here are a few random observations from the sidelines:
Casa Grande is a very good football team. We all knew the Gauchos were going to be good, but they are better balanced than I anticipated. I knew that quarterback JaJuan Lawson and running back John Porchivina were capable of taking over a game at any time and they haven’t disappointed. Lawson has all kinds of college recruiters shouting his name. What I didn’t expect was the contributions of Cody Hughson, tight end Miles Gardea and others.
Defensively, everyone expected inside linebackers Casey Longaker and Gardea to be pillars, but surprising has been the play of a very good defensive front with end Daniel Greisen and tackle Nick Pleinnikul especially outstanding.
About the only shadow of a cloud over the Gauchos so far has been an offensive line that keeps missing parts. The Gauchos are big and strong, but they are not deep, and when they lose an integral part as they have first with Brendan Jackson and now with Greg Poteracke, it is hard to regroup. It is not that the Casa line isn’t good, it is just that so far, it has not been able to play up to it dominating potential.
Petaluma’s Trojans are not big, they are not deep and last weekend’s loss to Piner was disappointing. But the thing about the Trojans is they are getting better every week. The improvement is especially noticeable in the offensive line. Speedsters like Gabe Medina, quarterback Patrick Bailey and Donavan Reece get more opportunities to make big plays ever week.
One thing that has been surprising about Petaluma has been the play of the special teams. In each of the their first three games this season, the Trojans had a long kickoff return from Medina to start the game. Part of that is Medina, who is super fast, sees the field well and is elusive. He reminds me a little of Sean Sullivan the outstanding back on Petaluma’s league unbeaten team of a few years ago. But, another big part of that is the blocking he receives. The blockers give him a lane and he explodes through it.
Greg Thomas has also developed into a reliable kicker both place and punt. He doesn’t rattle under a strong rush. Casa Grande’s Matt Abramo is the best place kicker in the Redwood Empire — a legitimate college prospect — but Thomas is pretty darn good and will be a factor in close games.
There is a lot more to say about more teams, but we’ve got an exciting month to form, reshape and rehash opinions.
For a number of reasons, I haven’t yet seen St. Vincent play, so I have to rely on intrepid reporter George Haire for my opinions about the Mustangs.
What he tells me is that new quarterback Jack Richardson is better than he expected — that he can definitely beat a team with his legs, but he also throws the football well. He says that running back Derek Murphy is better than ever and he agrees with coach Gary Galloway that Murphy is the kind of player that somehow finds a way to make a play when it is most needed.
It seems to me that the Mustangs are somewhat like Petaluma in that they will get better as the season progresses. Incidentally, 17 of the 26 players on the Mustang roster are juniors.
St. Vincent does have one potentially big problem. The Mustangs, as of last week, had no opponent for homecoming.
St. Vincent was scheduled to play Livermore Valley Prep on Oct. 12 as the highlight of homecoming week, but the Livermore team has cancelled the game, leaving the Mustangs all dressed up and no one to take to the dance.
(Contact John Jackson at email@example.com)
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