By Ernest Stone
Scrimmages, despite having no winners or losers, can often paint a picture of what type of season a team will have.
Yet, after Saturday’s three-way scrimmage between Riordan, Balboa, and Northgate of Walnut Creek, the canvas largely remains blank, as the contest did little more than raise new questions.
“We are average right now,” said Balboa senior quarterback Kerati Apilakvanichakit. “But we will get better through playing more games, getting experience.”
Balboa began the game flat on both sides, moving the ball just 15 yards in the first nine minutes of their beginning offensive possession.
On defense, the Buccaneers interior run stopping abilities were prevalent throughout the entire scrimmage, yet the team found it difficult to defend passing and outside option plays.
“We are so used to seeing run heavy offenses,” said Balboa head coach Alvaro Carvajal. “Our defensive backs can get bored, so when they do throw, it’s like they got their feet trapped in mud.”
Neither Balboa nor Northgate found it easy to put the shackles on Riordan senior receiver AJ Lewis, who in addition to a 55 yard touchdown reception added some excellent possession grabs.
“I just make the best of everything,” Lewis said. “If it’s a run play I’ll block, and if it’s a pass, then I’ll try my best to come down with it.”
Finding Lewis was senior quarterback Evan Williams, who split possessions under center with junior Ismael Orozco.
While Williams led a more dynamic aerial attack, Orozco found an easier time running the Crusaders’ ground game.
Despite each quarterback’s merits and faults, both Williams and Orozco displayed a grasp of head coach Bryan Blake’s offensive scheme, one which was new to both at the start of the season.
“Game experience is what will get us going more than anything else,” Blake said. “We were able to realize today that the speed of the game will take some time to sink into.”
Riordan’s defense may have been the biggest victim of rust, as the Crusader defense allowed 20 yards to be gained on the first two plays of the game.
Luckily for all three teams, the latter half of the scrimmage saw each team click both offensively and defensively.
In contrast to their game-long struggles in the secondary, Balboa’s two-headed running attack of Greg Warren and Sean Kately dominated the late stages of the game, while Riordan’s tackling and intensity significantly improved.
If the second stage of the scrimmages is to be any determinant of how the season will go for Balboa or Riordan, then one should expect competitive football in San Francisco.
Balboa begins it season against Analy of Sebastopol next week, while Riordan will take on Dougherty Valley of San Ramon.
Maybe then, the cohesive offenses and the bludgeoning defenses that Carvajal and Blake intend to oversee will take form.