Football: Riordan builds early lead against Mission, seals undefeated non-league season

Riordan junior quarterback Zach Masoli eyes the Mission defense on Saturday at Archbishop Riordan High School. (Photo by Willie Eashman)

By Jeremy Balan

Archbishop Riordan High School junior quarterback Zach Masoli’s stats this season don’t jump off the page, but he seems to come up with a “wow” play at least once a week.

Against visiting Mission on Saturday, it was a 74-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter of the Crusaders’ 35-14 non-league win.

With Riordan (3-0) already up 7-0, Masoli dropped back for a pass and was quickly flushed out of the pocket by the Mission (1-2) defense.

Mission senior quarterback Antoine Porter works his way through the Mission defense on Saturday at Archbishop Riordan High School. (Photo by Willie Eashman)

Masoli rolled right and appeared to still be intent on passing, then he flipped the switch.

“To be honest, it’s a whole blur to me,” Masoli said. “I’m just trying to make plays for my team and it’s more like street football with family members, trying to run around and not get two-hand touched.”

The junior sprinted down the right sideline, shrugged off a pair of Mission defenders and cut back across the field for the score.

Masoli also led the Crusaders on a scoring drive in the final minute of the second quarter and again went off script.

Facing third-and-8 from the Mission 45-yard line with two minutes left, Masoli again rolled right. He then stopped with his back to his receivers, reversed field, stopped again and found junior wide receiver Chris Hall wide open in the Mission secondary for a 35-yard gain.

Three plays later, on another third down, Masoli repeated his backfield ballet and found tight end Kyle Craig for a 11-yard score to give the Crusaders a 21-0 halfime lead.

“To be honest, I don’t want that,” Riordan head coach Richard Sweeney said of Masoli’s penchant to improvise. “That means we’re not doing as well as we should up front. Ideally, that’s not the plan. He’s a talented kid and really got us out of some jams today.”

Masoli ran for 106 yards on 11 carries and threw for 89 yards on 6-of-11 passing, but was not the focus of the Riordan game plan.

The Crusaders ran the ball early and often and got another 100-yard performance from senior running back Tre’ Gunter, who rushed for a game-high 113 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries.

“Tre’ has really had a fine season,” Sweeney said. “We kept feeding him and he kept getting positive yards for us.”

The Riordan offense was effective, but it was the defensive unit that kept the early lead intact.

The Crusaders held the Bears to 187 yards of total offense, intercepted Mission quarterback Antoine Porter twice and returned a Mission fumble for a touchdown.

Riordan senior running back Tre’ Gunter reaches the ball over the goal line for his second score of the game against Mission on Saturday at Archbishop Riordan High School. (Photo by Willie Eashman)

Porter again carried a significant load for the Bears and was responsible for over 67 percent of the Mission yards from scrimmage, including a team-high 83 yards rushing on 16 carries.

Porter also scored the only Mission touchdowns. The first was on a 1-yard quarterback sneak with 2:02 left in the third quarter and the second came on a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown two minutes later that cut the Riordan lead to 28-14.

The sneak capped the only Mission scoring drive, which started on the Bears’ 3-yard line. Porter had 46 rushing yards on the drive.

“We’re built around him,” Mission head coach Joe Albano said of Porter. “I thought we did a pretty good job, but we just didn’t put the ball in the end zone when we needed to. We shot ourselves in the foot with penalties, turnovers and AAA stuff.”

The win gives the Crusaders their first undefeated non-league season since 2003, but the question remains whether they have appropriately prepared themselves for West Catholic Athletic League play with what many consider a weak non-league schedule.

Riordan will open league play against defending WCAL champion Bellarmine in two weeks, a team that routed the Crusaders 56-0 last season.

“I don’t know if you’re ever prepared for that league,” Sweeney said. “The [league] is so tough. We had a coach down to watch Bellarmine last night and he said he didn’t see a mistake made by Bellarmine from the middle of the [junior varsity] game to the end of the varsity game. Not one mistake.”

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
R: 9:38 – Tre’ Gunter 5-yard run (kick failed)

Second Quarter
R: 10:10 – Zach Masoli 74-yard run (Chris Hall run on conversion)
R: 0:51 – Kyle Craig 11-yard pass from Masoli (Angel Hernandez kick)

Third Quarter
M: 2:02 – Antoine Porter 1-yard run (kick failed)
R: 0:06 – Craig 26-yard fumble return (Hernandez kick)
M: 0:00 – Porter 94-yard kickoff return (Dreon McElroy pass from Porter on conversion)

Fourth Quarter
R: 4:37 – Gunter 13-yard run (Hernandez kick)

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  1. JJ says:

    The backfield ballet by #8 was a beautiful sight to see. A-Mac #4 was really not a factor in this game as the swarming Crusader D neutralized the running back.

  2. AirWings says:

    I would of loved to see more passing from Mission, but I also understand that a key point receiver was not out there due to suspension. Also some of the ref’s did not call holding or face-mask penalties which was also a key factor in the win, I give it up to both teams though they played very well and Riordan and Mission are both my picks for their division.

    • jbalan says:

      Here we go again with the referees.

    • FBC101 says:

      There were plenty of calls made against Riordan. I recall seeing a facemask, unsportsmanlike conduct, and a few holding calls. Referees were not the deciding factor for Mission losing the game. Maybe it was some of the players from Mission who were dancing on the field during the final minutes as the Crusader Band was playing. I feel sorry for the Mission players that actually care. That Porter kids is an amazing athlete, ant the big D-Tackle plays with a motor.

      If Mission can clean up their mistakes they can definitely win the AAA.

      Riordan has a lot to improve upon to even be considered to win the WCAL, though i wish this Crusader team the best of luck. They are playing much more competitive than in years past.

  3. Chris says:

    Airwings, your picking Riordan to finish first in the WCAL…wow, you better research this before you make that statement. MIssion has some potential.

    • AirWings says:

      That quarterback they have has some potential and their runningbacks looked pretty good aswell.

      • cityfan415 says:

        its going to take more the two players for riordan to WIN the WCAL thats a bold statement really bold @AirWings

        • wcalsf says:

          O line still needs to improve as Coach Sweeney stated. Also, secondary is just ok. They may hav to get Gunter and Hall to play D if there are no other players called up for the season opener.

    • IC Stars says:

      Well he did say “division” and the WCAL isn’t split into divisions, so maybe he knows something we don’t ?

  4. Big guy 24 says:

    Congrats to the Riordan football team with a good win. Airwings Riordan will finish in 7th or 8th place in the WCAL… Watch and see!!
    The league is too good and Riordan is still rebuilding…

  5. wcal says:

    They will finish above SHC though. The injury to their best WR might force a QB change so Peralta can catch some passes and maybe run the ball too.

    • IC Stars says:

      Riordan will finish last. You’re in dreamland if you think otherwise.

      • JoJo says:

        You don’t know that for sure – anything can happen. I know they have a ways to go in WCAL but it’s good to see the rebuilding going in a positive direction.

        Freshmen play today at 4:00 against San Mateo @ Riordan. I heard there was a good turnout of fans on Friday when they were suppose to play but San Mateo got the days mixed up – so they say…

      • wcalsf says:

        Stars, proof of Riordan’s rise will be seen in today’s Frosh game. If you have a chance, hope you go and see for yourself. it would be good to get your assessment.

        • Chris says:

          Riordan accepted everyone who applied from SF warriors program for football.

          • wcalsf says:

            I heard the SF Warrior program is conducted the correct way in instilling that school comes before football. Former local stars include Jeremiah Masoli (Oregon/Miss) and Donald Strickland (Riordan/49ers) that volunteer their time to speak with these young men.

        • JJ says:

          I think Riordan has a better offense than SHC, but SHC has a better defense. SHC has better defensive ends and linebackers. The only studs on Riordan’s D is #77 and #40 (the guy who had an interception). The winner of the SHC and Riordan game will be whoever has the ball last.

          • FBC101 says:

            Not all were accepted to Riordan…

            SHC has two freshman from the SF Warriors
            SI has one
            Two very good football players from the SF Warriors went to Lincoln,and were not accepted at Riordan.
            One freshman was accepted to De La Salle and is on their JV Team as a freshman.

            • wcalsf says:

              i can see at least two riordan frosh (former sf warriors) promoted to jvs before league starts…

              • wcalsf says:

                I was told by a few of those who attended yesterday’s game that there are at least a dozen players that should on the JVs – and starting! Wow!

            • wcalsf says:

              14 Crusader Frosh Football players played for the SF Warriors last year. They played Frosh-level teams last year from Texas, MA and NV and beat them all.

        • IC Stars says:

          I probably won’t see them until they play SHC. I saw the Irish frosh this past Saturday and while they lost 23-6 they were still able to move the ball consistently so there weren’t a lot of “3 & out” situations. Their defense looked good. Definitely better than last year’s team.

  6. SmoothCriminal says:

    RIORDAN WILL FINISH in the top 5, easily. Bold Statement you may say? i think not. Its more of an actual factual statement

    • Lance says:

      SC your dreaming. They will be battling SH for last and SI right there too. Were talking WCAL. This is a whole different animal than Lincoln,Mission, Terra Nova and MA.

  7. Mr. Direct says:

    With this cupcake schedule, 3-0 was almost a certainty especially with all the hard work Coach Sweeney says his team put in during the offseason. But I am confused. If that is true why is the O-Line so bad in pass protection? They can’t even do a decent job against weak teams such as Lincoln and Mission? They have the size and athleticism on the line that most HS coaches would kill for. So what is it? If what coach Sweeney and all the Riordan supports think is true, that the team is very much improved from last year, than the average halftime score during league will not 28-4 as it was last year. I hope this is true but I have a feeling the Crusaders are in for a rude awakening.

  8. BigMikeDC says:

    Someone mentioned earlier that SHC and ARHS are only suiting about 30 players. Not enough depth to really compete for 4 quarters in the WCAL. Especially when you look at the Bellermines and Serras of the league. Friend has a kid on ARHS Frosh – said they are a pretty athletic group. Seem to move the ball pretty well with the #3 QB. Also noted they have quite a bit of chutzpah, and have already challenged the varsity. Maybe it’s those rugby players coming to the school!

  9. wcal says:

    I heard the count for Riordan Frosh players suited up for the game today was 79 or 80! There are frosh on that team with no business playing at that level. They are far too good.

  10. manifest Destiny says:

    There should be no doubt that Riordan’s Freshman football team is loaded with talent. In the Freshman jamboree at Terra Nova none of the teams came close to matching them. I was at the game today at Riordan. They will be extremely competitive if not dominant in WCAL Freshmen play.

    To their credit the San Mateo Bearcats only had 15 players suited up. They were completely overmatched in a rare Monday Freshman road game. Their kids did well to finish the game and they kept their heads up.

    That being said , Riordan’s Frosh are the real deal! Check out the game against the Bells!

    • JoJo says:

      Yes, hats off to the San Mateo team for keeping their heads up as the Crusader had a huge lead and a ton of kids on the side lines. Is there no Mercy rule at the freshmen level of play?

  11. Big guy 24 says:

    Playing vs terrible teams in pre-season then having to play the big dogs in the WCAL is 2 different worlds. Its nice to see Riordan winning some practice games but what team was any good that they played? I hope the city schools some how find a way to compete and win a game or 2 but doesn’t look good. My opinion is SHC and Riordan will have 1 win in league in 2012. Good luck kids.

    • IC Stars says:

      Looks like St. Mary’s was the best team they played but they obviously had no defense.

      If Riordan wins one game, be it against SI.

    • jimmythekid says:

      You are right it is going to be a tough year for Riordan’s Varsity. They are still rebuilding from a very low base. The Freshmen team may well go undefeated beating Serra, Bellarmine etc. The future is bright.

      • Mr. Direct says:

        I also see a concern in regards to the number of players suited up. It seems as if there were less than 30 players suited up for both the Riordan JV and Varsity. Why have the numbers on JV and Varsity declined from last year?

      • Lance says:

        Now Jimmy. Don’t go jumping the gun. You have to remember Riordan is really starting over.The other WCAL schools from the south are light years ahead of the city WCAL schools. Sorry Jimmy but I felt you needed a dose of reality

  12. Lance says:

    Anyone catch the Serra game on Comcast? They pulled out a win against a tough Central Valley team that would battle for the WCAL title for sure.

    • JJ says:

      Serra can’t stop the end around to the right side, otherwise they are a very good team. SI nor any of the SF schools doesn’t do end arounds, anyways. Serra’s offense is boring to watch, but very tough to stop. Maybe u can talk about them on SanMateoPreps.

      • Lance says:

        JJ I agree with you.The Offense is very boring but itis effective. The Souhthern WCAL are just at a different level then the city WCAL. schools. I like bringing a dose of reality to you JJ.

        • JJ says:

          Reality: Serra has 1,000 boys and Bellarmine has around 1500 boys who attend their respective schools. SI has about 700 boys. Therefore, more boys will tryout for football at Serra and Bellarmine than SI and SHC.

  13. Lance says:

    Double J I don’t want to belabor the point it is not just the quantity trying out. It’s the quality. Sorry if I hit a raw nerve double J

  14. Chris says:

    Just went to the SHC frosh game, they won 20-6. They have some decent size and gifted athletes. There is a kid named Shepard who looks big and is fast. Word is he is Jamar Shepard’s son who was an SH star. The same guy who intercepted Tom Brady in 1994 to beat Nice to have a offensive player to help Logan White in the future…Go IRISH.

    • FBC101 says:

      Shepard, another kid who played for the SF Warriors. SHC Frosh has another lineman who played for the Warriors by the name of Keith Ismael. Those two will be very good football players for the Irish.

    • IC Stars says:

      I saw him run a 50-yard TD against Campolindo. Now for another Rance, Greene, Yarnway, Miles and the ’96 and ’97 defense.

      Also, the biggest play against Serra was Jamar Sheppard batting down a last minute pass in the end zone.

      • wcalsf says:

        Yes. Shepard and Ismael are former SF Warriors ….Riordan Frosh have 11 former SF Warriors that include their best RB and FB/LB – Raymone Sanders and Jamarian Caston. Plenty of size, too, with a quick take of the roster. Highlights from their Warrior days can be found on the SF Warrior Football site! Riordan’s new JV coach and several coaches thru out all levels of th FB program have ties to this very good program. New Riordan Administration are making nice changes on Phelan Ave.

      • Chris says:

        IC stars, is Valentino Miles planning to play anywhere or are his playing days over?

    • Nice win for frosh. They were actually missing 5 starters for the game, 4 who should be back next week. So a lot of players had to flop positions for the game.

    • Lance says:

      One victory last 45 years that’s pretty good lol

    • Lance says:

      Chris- I’m sure Brady has nightmares over that game. Not!

  15. Chris says:

    Lance, obviously you know nothing. Christian Brother Brady was the principal at Sacred Heart Cathedral then, who is part of his family Look up the article… In the grand scheme of things, I agree it is nothing in Tom Brady’s elite career. But at the same time, how many high school kids can say they picked off the great Tom Brady to win the game. High School sports are some of the best memories of your life and if you do not agree, you wouldn’t be in this blog.

    • Lance says:

      Wow Chris. You sure did your research. I read the article you referenced. I only hope Giselle is there to comfort him at night.

  16. BeeFeez says:

    Good to see the pipeline from SF Jr. Niners and Bombers are feeding the Riordan team. This group will definitely bring Riordan back to prominence.

    • Ari Gold says:

      Whats your definition of “prominence”?… If you feel it means able to beat SI and SH every year and win 75% of their non-league games and contend for CCS Div 3 title, then sure. But if you feel like they are going to win the WCAL, then no.

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