Prep Impressions: Week 3

I covered the Riverside North-Fontana Kaiser varsity football game for The Press-Enterprise on Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, and came away thinking the Cats’ awesome streak of league titles and playoff appearances, begun by legendary coach Dick Bruich, may finally come to an end under Phil Zelaya.

North QB Justin Gheorghe (No. 5) talks with coach Mark Paredes (left) and receiver Aaron Peck during the third quarter.

And Zelaya didn’t pull any punches after the Cats’ 34-7 loss at home to Riverside North on Friday.

When asked for his opinion on difference between this year and last year’s result, Zelaya said: “So we lost a lot of guys. Yes. But you gotta grow up and play. I mean, hell, here we are.”

After a 52-7 loss to San Bernardino Cajon in Week 2, Zelaya said he and his coaching staff “picked it up” during practice last week. And in at least one aspect, his team responded.

The Cats (1-2 overall) averaged a robust 6.9 yards per run on 36 attempts, and finished with 250 rushing yards.

“People are going to look at the scoreboard and see that it was a one-sided game – sure it was – but our guys played hard,” Zelaya said. “If you saw us play last week you’d say, ‘That’s a different team,’ in my opinion.”

Kaiser ran the ball. But the Cats also complete just 2 of 4 passes and were intercepted once.

How can Kaiser expect to win another Sunkist League title with a one-dimensional offense and an over-matched defense.

Fontana Summit will eat them alive.

Fontana coach Phil Zelaya:
“North’s an excellent football team. They play in an excellent league. They’re undefeated for a reason. I thought we had some turnovers but, you know, the bigger picture of things – the scoreboard won’t show it – but we got better tonight. Playing. We didn’t play last week. Cajon was a good football team but last week we didn’t play at all. Tonight we played. They (North) has some exceptional football players, and they’re coached very well. Those two things together and you’ve got a disadvantage there. But we got better tonight. Picked up a little bit (at practice) and the kids practices hard, and we as coaches coached harder. We’re happy. Obviously, losing’s terrible. You’ve got to look at the bigger picture of things. This is Week 3 and we grew up tonight. What did I tell the team? The scoreboard, obviously, we don’t like that. But what did we do tonight? We grew up. Like I said, people are going to look at the scoreboard and see that it was a one-sided game — sure it was – but our guys played hard. I don’t know how many team have 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4 receivers. If that’s the case, I’d like to know now. They’re very gifted. You know what they do very well? They stick to what they know, and they put their players in great position. So that put our little guys in bad positions. That’s when you’ve got to do some other things. We don’t have any 6-foot-4 guys. There you have it.”

North coach Mark Paredes:
“I think each season’s different. We had a rough week of practice. We just didn’t work real hard. It’s good to be able to come ahead in the score. It’s unfortunate for Kaiser to put the ball on the ground and kinda help us. They were driving the ball on us pretty good, and they were taking it to us but it’s a credit to them. The did a great job. We had some athletes who are able to make some plays and that was the difference. Justin (Gheorghe) is one of those guys where he’s gonna do what he does. He’s gonna scramble and throw. I think he’s good with his receivers, got good relationship with them in terms of knowing where they’re gonna be. Sometimes he overthinks and over-analyzes too much. One things about just is he’s always trying to go for a score. Ya know what I mean? We’re telling him to throw the sure ones and he has difficulty doing that. He spread the ball around a lot. I don’t think Aaron (Peck) caught the ball that many times but I think Myers caught the ball a lot. So I think it was good from that standpoint. We’ve just to polish. We were sloppy tonight and we were lucky because Kaiser is young and we took advantage of some of their mistakes and we’ve just got work and polish and get better.”

North senior Justin Gheorghe:
“It was a big win. We had some tough times at practice this week but when it came down to game time, we got it done. It was a good win. It came together. We saw they were physical, we knew we had to be physical.”

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