Casa Grande High School's stars shined brightly as the Gauchos sparkled in an impressive 51-13 win over Eureka's shocked Loggers on the first night of the 2013 high school football season.
After a bit of a sputtering start, the Gauchos took charge to record their first win of what they are confident will be another in a succession of outstanding seasons for he Big House.
The players counted on to lead the Gauchos to another big season more than lived up to expectations.
Senior quarterback JaJuan Lawson did what was anticipated, only he did it better, completing 15 of 22 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a 9-yard score. While Lawson was picking the Eureka secondary apart with a succession of short to middle-range darts, John Porchivina was blasting through gaping holes ripped open by his offensive line for two long touchdown runs, going 61 yards for a score at the outset of the second half and topping that with an 81-yard scoring burst before he retired for the evening with unofficially 187 yards rushing.
"This is a great way to get it started," said Lawson. He noted that the Gaucho passing game had changed somewhat from last season. "We're using different routes," he said. "We're using more shorter routes this year."
Defensively, the Gauchos, after being burned early by Eureka quarterback Alexis Robinson, one of the fastest preps in the North Coast Section on both track and football field, generally contained the Loggers' explosive team speed. "The defense played as a unit," noted Casa Grande coach Trent Herzog. "We missed some assignments early, but the coaches made some adjustments, we turned it around and started staying home. Once we got rolling, it was a great team effort.
The coach noted especially the play of defensive end Daniel Greisen, who was instrumental in keeping the speedy Loggers from getting to the corners; linebackers Miles Gardea and Casey Longaker and Nick Pleinnikul who anchored the Gaucho defensive line.
Greisen said the key to neutralizing the Logger speed was "good pressure and getting good angles" on Robinson and the Eureka backs.
With the game well decided, both teams went to their bench and Casa's reserves proved totally dominant. Highlight of a wild fourth quarter was a fumble recovery return to the Eureka 4-yard line by Rogelio Brito, who then scored the touchdown himself on a pass from Brent Eger, and Greisen's recovery in the end zone for a touchdown of a bad Eureka snap on a punt attempt.
Casa Grande kicker Matt Abramo hit on six of seven PAT attempts, added a 27-yard field goal, and consistently kicked off into the end zone.
One of only two kickoffs he left short of the end zone was returned 98 yards for a touchdown by Eureka's Jake Gordon, but by then, Casa Grande was already in front by six touchdowns and a field goal.
Eureka actually led early when Robinson managed to slide outside midway through the opening quarter and displayed his jet qualities with an 80-yard run to the end zone.
That was the last time the Loggers had hope. Lawson quickly passed the Gauchos 70 yards with a bevy of accurate throws to an array of receivers, capping the march with his running score. Before the half played out, he passed 21 yards for a touchdown to Gardea and 29 yards for a score to Cody Hughson.