Prep Impressions: Aug. 26, 2016

The first week of the prep football season is always full of missed assignments, mental mistakes, fumbles, interceptions, muffed punts, etc., and the Murrieta Valley-Corona Santiago Week 0 game on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, was no exception.

To wit: Week 0 is sort of the moment when rubber hits the road for many high school football teams, and the results are often like a car crash.

Every team wants to take that step in the right direction. If they win it’s not without pitfalls along the way. If they lose the become an easy target for critics.

“Hey, it’s the first game,” Murrieta Valley coach George Wilson said. “I think every team goes into their first game and they have stuff where it’s like (shrugs).”

Murrieta Valley receiver Marquis Spiker points to the sideline referee on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016.

Murrieta Valley receiver Marquis Spiker points to the sideline referee on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016.

Highly-touted Murrieta Valley turned the ball over early, and Santiago is good enough to take advantage. The Sharks scored on both a fumble return and an interception return, and recovered a fumbled punt return in the first half.

“(They) had a pick-six and scoop-and-score, and then we had a muffed punt return for another turnover, so we had three turnovers for 14 points,” Wilson said. “We were a little careless with the ball, and we just didn’t get on point until the second half.”

One month of on-the-field practice and a scrimmage one week before is all the practice time a team gets. Even with the mistakes, Murrieta Valley’s prolific airborne offense got better as the game progressed.

“Our offense, obviously, the second half I was happy with more so than the first half (and) not taking care of the ball,” Wilson said.

The Nighthawks defense suffocated Santiago’s inexperienced attack, holding the Sharks without a touchdown until the second half.

“I thought the defense played well. I don’t think the other team scored a touchdown on offense until late in the third quarter,” Wilson said. “I was real happy with our defense.”

Santiago second-year coach Scott Morrison has beefed up the Sharks’ nonleague calendar to include three Southwestern League teams.

“We schedule good people because we think we’re good people,” Morrison said. “We want to play top-notch teams because we still have the Big VIII to play.”

That’s the crux of it: Find a way to play against the best competition you can.

“Our players deserve to have every opportunity to get better,” Morrison said. “Playing these teams, I think, helps us do that.”

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