Prep Impressions: Week 3

Corona recovered a botched punt early in Week 3. / Photo by Robert A. Whitehead for The Press-Enterprise

Corona recovered a botched punt early in Week 3. / Photo by ROBERT A. WHITEHEAD for The Press-Enterprise

I covered the Corona-Riverside La Sierra varsity football game for The Press-Enterprise, & @pecom_preps on Friday night, Sept. 18, and came away thinking there’s little room for objectivity in 56-0.

Corona overpowered La Sierra in the way a Big VIII League team should overpower a River Valley League team, and it wasn’t pretty.

The Panthers (4-0 overall) looked sharp on offense, capping long drives with touchdowns over and over again. Coach Stephen Hill’s defense was opportunistic when it was on the field — which was little.

Senior QB Jake Sparks’ efficiency is noteworthy. He missed on just five of 24 pass attempts, completing throws to eight different receivers.

La Sierra (0-3 overall) has been outscored 174-41 this season. The Eagles’ schedule thus far — Arlington (1-2), Temecula Valley (3-0), Corona (4-0) — has gotten progressively tougher, and coach Garry Hedlund says that’s what will make them a playoff team.

Freshman RB Gabriel Simmons Jr. has some fantastic moves but struggled with just 24 yards on 12 carries. He had a 19-yard gain in the second quarter that made the crowd pop.

Corona coach Stephen Hill:
“We’re trying to get as many plays in as possible and see what we’re going well and what we need to work on. Honestly, I think our biggest thing right now is discipline and penalties. We just want to get as much as a look as we can going into league. We need to know what we’re good at and what we need to scrap. We’ll come in this weekend, put our big-boy pants on, watch the video and critique ourselves and get back to work on Monday. The 1-9 season, they remember. It’s not that far ago. I’m just super proud of how they’re handling it. They’ve put the right people here. There’s no selfish people, and everyone works so hard to be a part of it that it’s like people are developing in it. We’ve had the guys but this year is the first time I’ve felt like they’ve really bought into each other. It feels really good. Maybe it’s the family aspect of it that has every bought in and doing they’re part and believing in each other.”

La Sierra head coach Garry Hedlund:
“Corona sends a really heavy rush and we hadn’t seen anything like that before. It’s a big school. We still believe in these kids. We still believe we’re a playoff team. We’ve played — look at the rest of the River Valley (League) — and they’re playing who? We still believe we’re a playoff team. We still believe with this team, and the guys we have. We still believe in each other, we still believe in these kids. Tonight was rough. All three of them (games) have been rough, but we’re really, really, really young. We’re playing a bunch of sophomores and (Gabriel Simmons), that happened after a scrimmage. He was with the JVs and no one could touch him. We said ‘We got to get him up to the varsity and see what he can do,’ and we couldn’t tackle him. We felt he can do some things and he’s proved us to be right. He had over 140 yards last week (vs. Temecula Valley). Going into tonight — random stat of the day — he was second leading freshman runner in the state of California. He’s doing some good things. We’re really, really young and getting better and we’re working hard. Tonight, regardless of what the scoreboard says, we played better on defense. We got hats to the ball. We tackled, and a lot of their scores were set up but stupid plays by us. We botched the snap on the punt. We threw a pick and they return it to the 1.”

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