By John Baker
Like their coach wanted, the Lincoln High School football team dealt its blows quick and early on Friday night.
The only question in Lincoln head coach Phil Ferrigno’s mind was whether his team could hang on defensively.
“We’ve started well then let teams get back in,” Ferrigno said. “Today they stepped up. We haven’t had that the past couple weeks — it’s been like the Arthur Murray Dance Company.”
Ferrigno had little to worry about, however, as Lincoln waltzed to 47-14 win over Balboa in the AAA opener for both teams at Kezar Stadium.
With a bye last week, one might have thought that Lincoln (3-1, 1-0) would have some rust to shake off Friday night. That was not the case, as the Mustangs held the Buccaneers (0-4, 0-1) to minus-20 yards on Balboa’s first drive and then scored on their first play from scrimmage, a 34-yard touchdown run by Justus Smith.
To top the strong start off, Lincoln defender Brett Woods recovered a Balboa fumble on the Bucs’ first play after the touchdown, then Demetrius Williams scored the first of his four touchdowns in the game on the very next play with a 15-yard run.
“Momentum is everything in any sport,” said Balboa head coach Alvaro Carvajal. “It can be a tough thing to fight through it, but we should have done a better job.”
Williams scored his second touchdown with 4:46 left in the first quarter on a 45-yard jinking run, in which he slipped three tackles. In all, Lincoln scored on three of its first six plays from scrimmage.
“A lot of people don’t get a chance out here and I’m just playing it like it’s my last,” Williams said. “I told my team in the huddle that we needed to start out fast and we did.”
Balboa had some trouble getting going behind quarterback Eli Smoot, a standout baseball player who was playing his first varsity football game after little more than a week of practice.
The Buccaneers got on the board at the end of the first quarter on a 1-yard run by Jahlil Baptiste, but Smoot, who completed 6-of-19 passes for 111 yards, was sacked five times. Smoot connected with Prince Taouma on a 19-yard touchdown pass early in the second half for the only other Balboa score.
“We’ve only had [Smoot] for about a week,” Carvajal said. “He was my JV guy and we convinced him to come back, and at the end of the day he missed football. So we’re only going to build with him.”
Lincoln tallied its other scores on a 1-yard keeper from quarterback Derek Morrell midway through the second quarter, a 32-yard run by Williams 2:25 before halftime, a 4-yard run by Williams immediately after the break and a 46-yard fumble recovery by Giovanni Catalan on the first play after Williams’ final score.
“My teammates made a great play with the forced fumble and the first thing in my head was to pick it up and score,” Catalan said. “We had a lot of heart on [defense]. We all rallied to the ball and shut them out.”
After an exchange of fire to start the third quarter, the game settled, and neither team scored in the final 22 minutes of game time.
Lincoln’s defensive pressure resulted in five sacks and three forced fumbles, while Balboa sacked Morrell once and recovered two fumbles.
Williams led all rushers with 218 yards on 12 carries, teammate Tyree Marzetta carried 16 times for 96 yards and Smith tallied 66 yards on 10 carries. Balboa, which tallied 267 yards of total offense compared to Lincoln’s 432, was led by Antoine Crecy’s 142 yards on 14 carries.
“Overall, we’re very happy. You don’t get to score 47 points too many times,” Ferrigno said. “It’s a good feeling for the team and I’m proud of them.”
Lincoln was awarded the inaugural “Battle of the Beards” Trophy after the game, the first time the league matchup was commemorated with a piece of hardware.
L: 9:52 – Justus Smith 34-yard run (kick failed)
L: 9:33 – Demetrius Williams 15-yard run (Tyree Marzetta run on conversion)
L: 4:56 – Williams 45-yard run (Derek Morrell kick)
B: 2:29 – Jahlil Baptiste 1-yard run (kick failed)
L: 7:32 – Morrell 1-yard run (kick failed)
L: 2:25 – Williams 32-yard run (Morrell kick)
L: 11:15 – Williams 4-yard run (Morrell kick)
L: 11:05 – Catalan 46-yard fumble recovery (kick failed)
B: 10:18 – Prince Taouma 19-yard pass from Eli Smoot (Antoine Crecy run on conversion)