By Jeremy Balan
Even with a new head coach and a bunch of fresh faces, the same mistakes that plagued the Washington High School football team early last season made several appearances in the Eagles’ home opener against El Camino of South San Francisco on Saturday.
The Eagles committed three turnovers, turned the ball over on downs twice, gained just 151 yards of total offense and had only eight first downs in a 34-12 non-league loss.
Known for their straight-ahead rushing attack in recent years, the Eagles (0-1) ran for just 51 total yards against the Colts (1-1) and had minus-18 rushing yards in the second half.
Washington had six plays of 10 yards or more, but had a staggering 15 plays that went for negative yardage.
“We are running sideways too much and not down the field enough, and that is killing me, but we need to take it one step at a time,” said first-year Washington head coach Taylan Plasch.
Despite Washington’s struggles, for most of the game, El Camino wasn’t doing much better. The Eagles’ defensive unit held down the Colts for most of the game and Washington only trailed 13-6 heading into the fourth quarter.
It was even close midway through the fourth quarter, when Washington answered a 61-yard touchdown run from El Camino’s Brandon Gip with a 83-yard return for a touchdown by Ricky Lee Johnson on the ensuing kickoff to cut the lead to 21-12 with 7:49 remaining in the game.
But El Camino played cautiously, and after attempting 13 passing plays in the first half, the Colts threw just one pass in the second.
It appeared as if the Colts would rather wait for the Eagles to make mistakes before taking chances themselves.
The Eagles obliged with an interception that was returned for a touchdown and a fumble that led to another score on consecutive drives in the fourth quarter, and saw the Colts pull away.
“I was starting to get worried, but we made some key plays down the stretch,” said El Camino head coach Mark Turner. “We didn’t make as many mental mistakes than we did last week. We made the adjustments at halftime and a couple of big plays opened up for us.”
The Colts, along with the referees, also tried to help the Eagles out early in the third quarter, but Washington could not capitalize.
On El Camino’s first play of the second half, the Colts fumbled on their own 30-yard line and Washington recovered. It took the Eagles eight plays to get to the El Camino 10-yard line.
After a negative-yardage play on first-and-goal, Washington senior quarterback Simon Ma scrambled to the 4-yard line on second down. A 5-yard facemask penalty was called on the Colts, which moved the ball to the 2-yard line, but did not result in a first down and did not allow a replay of second down. On third down, fourth down and then a fifth down, Washington was stopped short of the goal line on running plays.
The Colts were leading 13-6 at the time, and the extended goal-line stand preserved their one-score margin.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” Plasch said. “It’s preseason and we want to be more competitive, but we’re going in the right direction.”
EC: 1:08 – Ian Santos 1-yard run (Jose Sanchez Rodriguez kick)
EC: 9:24 – John Turner 1-yard run (kick failed)
W: 5:36 – Thomas Flores 1-yard pass from Simon Ma (conversion failed)
EC: 8:02 – Brandon Gip 61-yard run (Taj Childs pass from Santos on conversion)
W: 7:49 – Ricky Lee Johnson 83-yard kick return (conversion failed)
EC: 5:18 – Jose Sanchez 36-yard interception return (Rodriguez kick)
EC: 4:27 – Anthony Hines 37-yard run (kick blocked)