Prep Impressions: Friday, Oct. 28, 2016

RIVERSIDE (Calif.) — Why throw the ball when you can just pulverize your opponents into dust?

Seems like an easy enough question to answer when your have an offensive line which combines to weigh WAY more than 1,000 pounds, and a 20-year history of treading through dust.

“It’s kind of a tradition we’ve had,” Riverside Norte Vista head coach Ken Batdorf said.

Norte Vista (7-2 overall, 4-0 River Valley) totaled 320 rushing yards in a 28-19 victory over Riverside Hillcrest in a Week 9 game on Friday, Oct. 28, 2016.

The Braves’ offensive line — Stanton Manumaleuna (295 pounds), Solomon Iosefa (285), Alfredo Torres (255), Jacob Stafford (250), Andrew Davidson (240), Francisco Uribe (240), Matthew Lepp (235) et al — is really pushing their weight around, and at the right time with the playoffs only 13 days away.

“We have some great kids and they’re going a phenomenal job,” Batdorf said. “We still have to get healthy, refocused, and there’s still a lot of little things we still have to tweak.”

Norte Vista has surpassed 400 team rushing yards twice (525 and 412), topped 300-plus in five of their other seven games and has the Inland area’s leading rusher in senior Eric Melesio.

Batdorf, the longest-serving head coach at one school in the area at more than 20 years, is always thinking ahead. He went on to explain, at length, the Braves’ playoff outlook and speak knowledgeably about teams from outside the area.

“I don’t know if you’ve been looking at it — you probably haven’t — but I’ve analyzed it, a lot, and there’s really no way to know what’s going to happen,” he said.

He said Santa Fe Springs St. Paul may have been a significant challenge, the it has two forfeits and is all but out of the playoff picture. He likes Monrovia, and can’t quite get his mind around a potential matchup vs. Temecula Linfield Christian.

“It’s totally up in there air. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Batdorf said. “There’s an upcoming CIF meeting, and I know there’ll be some discussions and I’ll probably come out of there even more confused.”

Making dust, obviously, is dirty work.

“You have to play good people no matter where you are. It’s going to be a real interesting thing,” Batdorf said. “People ask me, ‘What’s going to happen, Coach?'”

Batdorf shrugs. “I dunno.”

No matter. When that dust clears and you wipe off the caked-on mud and blood there’s still the shine. The Braves have won four of the last five River Valley League titles.

“We’ve won a few league titles and we’ve been blessed to have some great kids, and that’s what it’s about,” he said.

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