Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rio Mesa Freshmen Open the Season With a Big Win

The 2008 Rio Mesa H.S. Freshman football season finally kicked off last Thursday with the Spartans driving one hour north to the beautiful city of Santa Barbara to play the San Marcos Royals. Tensions ran high as these two squads warmed up before an estimated crowd of 300 football fanatics.

Coaching the Freshmen for the first time in my 40 year coaching career is a lesson in patience, humility and, most of all, the torturous continual effort to not laugh out loud too often!

In our locker room at Rio Mesa one player wanted to know if he needed to wear his game socks. I asked him to fill in the blank "We are going to ride the bus to the San Marcos _____." When he correctly answered "GAME", he knew which socks to wear.

Another player asked me if we were going to have a practice today. "No, we are going to play a GAME at San Marcos today instead."

After dressing out, the players assembled in our weight room near the bus pick-up point. Before loading the bus I ran the players through a pre-game checklist: 
Helmet? CHECK!
Mouthpiece? CHECK!
Chin strap? CHECK!
Right Football Shoe? CHECK!
Left Football Shoe? CHECK!
Are you wearing your Game Jersey? CHECK!
Are you wearing your Game Pants with ALL hip, tail, thigh and knee pads in place? CHECK!

A simple procedure one would think. Of course, when we got to San Marcos our starting Nose Guard informed us that he had left his football shoes back in the weight room!!! Thanks to the miracle of cell phone technology, his father went to Rio Mesa, got the shoes and delivered them before the kickoff.

Devin Hinds kicks off to start the season.

The game was not televised locally since it was not a sell out.

Devin, a Tailback, would go on to score our final TD of the game.

Defense Dominated Early and Often

The Spartans held San Marcos to 119 Total Yards on their 29 plays including 5 "Three and Outs" in San Marcos' 7 offensive possessions.  

#11 Tanner Wrout Pressures the Royal's Punter

Tanner had a great day! On offense at Fullback, he contributed 4 carries for 51 yards and the season's first TD. He caught 4 passes for 70 yards. From his Falcon position on defense he also made 2 tackles.   

#21 Brandon Chong on the Spartans Signature Sweep Play

Brandon started the game at Tailback and Cornerback. He had 6 carries for 21 yards and was in on 4 tackles on defense.

This Is Our Fanbase
Unruly, They Strike Fear Into My Heart!

The Spartans actually brought a GREAT group of fans that easily outnumbered the San Marcos home crowd!

#9 Jaylen Stewart

After sitting out the First Quarter for disciplinary reasons, Jaylen rushed 11 times for 133 yards and 2 TD's.

#36 Jeff Espinoza
Showing Off his Heisman Trophy Pose

#91 Ben Dixon

WOW! What a first game for our soft spoken, gentle giant of a Defensive End!

He was in on a team leading 12 tackles including a 5 yard QB Sack. He also recovered a Pooch Kickoff to deny San Marcos an offensive possession in the second half.

#6 Trevor Brandt

"They Call Me Assassin" was the title of a book written by hard hitting 1970's Oakland Raider safety Jack Tatum.

For some reason I never think about either Jack Tatum or his book when I get around Trevor, who works VERY HARD in practice on our Scout (Tiger) Team.
As We Say in Sicily, "EEMPOSSIBLE!"

This isn't really happening is it?

After we scored a Touchdown in the third quarter, one of our players on the sideline asked me if I now wanted the Kickoff or Kickoff Return Team.

I informed him that I would LOVE to trot out the Kickoff Return Team but that the referees would probably take a dim view of it!

I did NOT giggle... MUCH!

Maybe Coach Reardon Really CAN Walk on Water!

It all starts with levitating things like water bottles.

Coach Muro

Mike Muro and John Reardon do a GREAT job working with our Offensive Linemen!

First Game Offensive Totals:

36 rushes for 318 yards, 8.8 yards per carry average and 6 rushing TD's!

Additionally, the Offensive Line did a very solid job protecting our 3 QB's who combined to complete 7 of 9 pass attempts for 108 yards and a 2 point conversion with NO QB SACKS!

#5 Christian McNair

Our "Lefty" QB had 2 carries for 7 yards and a TD plus going 2 for 3 passing for 45 yards.

#26 Darren Gales Reaching for SIX!

Darren had 4 carries for 52 yards and this TD. Our starting Free Safety, he also had 3 tackles on defense.

#52 Middle Linebacker Nick Gutierrez

Nick had 8 tackles for us including 2 Tackles behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of 5 yards. He also recovered a San Marcos fumble to cap off a good first outing!

Nick's father, Gilbert, was a defensive lineman for us on Rio Mesa's Varsity football team in 1989... right about now, this makes me feel REALLY old!


Well, that's another Freshman football story in and of itself! When the game was over the scoreboard read Rio Mesa 45 - San Marcos 10.

The last 10 minutes of the game was a period of distraction on both sidelines as both coaching staffs were trying to insure that everybody got into the game for at least a few plays. As a result of this sideline chaos, something never before seen in the history of American football occurred that went COMPLETELY unnoticed by the players, coaches, fans and game officials.

As we were riding home, I tried to recall who scored our 7 TD's but Brian FitzGerald and I could only come up with the names of 5 players who accounted for 6 TD's. Chalk it up to old age and failing memories, we'll figure it out when we do stats off of the game tape.

I did our game stats off of said game tape and I still only came up with only 6 TD's and 39, not 45 points. We'll, maybe our dad, who did a very good job of filming, missed a drive at the end of the game when we were subbing so liberally.

Fortunately, another parent gave me a copy of a game tape she took from the visitor's stands and we found the missing TD. Devin Hinds scored our last TD, raising our point total from 32 to 38 late in the fourth quarter. On this copy of the game tape, you canclearly see the scoreboard operator instead count Devin's TD as TWELVE points, not six! I guess that the timekeeper gave Devin's 20 yard TD romp style points just like Olympic gymnasts got in Beijing last month. I would have only given him an additional 2 points if I was judging his scoring run under these Olympic rules.

Oh, the REAL Final Score was: Rio Mesa 39 - San Marcos 10.

We are now 1-0 on the season and have our home opener this Thursday at 4:00 p.m. against a 1-0 Newbury Park team coached by Verne Merrill who I coached at Thousand Oaks H.S. in the early 1970's. His wife Debbie was our oldest son Andy's first baby sitter in 1974. Now I really feel like I'm older than dirt!!!

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