By Jeremy Balan
Archbishop Riordan High School’s football team is getting better. It’s just hard to see against the West Catholic Athletic League’s best teams.
The Crusaders limited a potent Serra offense to 284 yards, but familiar problems with their young offense led to a 35-10 loss Saturday at Archbishop Riordan High School.
The Riordan (1-6, 0-4) offensive line struggled throughout and allowed sophomore quarterback Zach Masoli to be sacked seven times, stalling any momentum gained by the Crusaders’ defense. Riordan was also hampered by penalties, committing 10 for 107 yards.
“We’re making improvements and we need to,” said Riordan head coach Richard Sweeney. “We have to eliminate the stupid penalties, get our protection honed up and get Zach some time to throw the football, because he’s pretty good.”
Masoli was on the run on nearly every passing play, but even with the negative yards on the sacks, he led the Crusaders in rushing with 38 yards. He also threw for 149 yards on 9-of-25 passing, including a 58-yard touchdown strike to fellow sophomore Christopher Hall in the fourth quarter.
“It’s frustrating for Zach and it’s frustrating for everybody,” Sweeney said. “I have to look at ways to improve our protection and get him out of harm’s way. We’re trying three-step [drops] and he can’t get to his second step before people are on him.”
Serra (6-1, 3-1) got 127 yards and two touchdowns on the ground from Colorado-bound senior running back Erich Wilson, but turned the ball over three times in the first half to keep Riordan in the game.
“There were some self-inflicted wounds there in the first half,” said Serra head coach Patrick Walsh. “Riordan fought hard today and there was definitely improvement in their tenacity.”
Fortunately for the Padres, the Crusaders could not capitalize on the first-half mistakes.
With time winding down in the second quarter, Masoli led the Crusaders down to the the Serra 9-yard line, but was intercepted with 19 seconds left in the half, and Riordan failed to cut into the 21-3 Serra lead.
Riordan junior linebacker Mark Mulligan accounted for all three turnovers, with two fumble recoveries and an interception in the first half.
“He had a big day,” Sweeney said. “He’s our leading tackler and right now is our most valuable defender. He still has things he needs to work on, but he’s a football player and he wants to be the best he can be.”
Eager to get back into the game, Riordan took some chances in the third quarter, including a failed fake punt, and Serra pounced on their short-field opportunities. The Padres only ran five plays in the third quarter, but extended their lead to 35-3.
“We need to take advantage of some of those breaks, but obviously Serra is a good team,” Sweeney said. “We’ll just keep working.”
Riordan continues WCAL play next week against Mitty, while Serra has a showdown with first-place Bellarmine.
“We have a lot of stuff to work on,” Walsh said. “Obviously we have a huge game against Bellarmine in six days.”
S: 9:39 — Erich Wilson 42-yard run (Anthony Toms kick good)
S: 1:01 — Chad Baur 68-yard punt return (Toms kick good)
R: 10:24 — Jose Rodriguez 32-yard field goal
S: 2:15 — Joey Erdie 3-yard run (Toms kick good)
S: 9:29 — Wilson 6-yard run (Toms kick good)
S: 3:51 — Jacob Goell 5-yard run (Toms kick good)
R: 3:12 — Christopher Hall 58-yard pass from Zach Masoli (Rodriguez kick good)