Prep Impressions: Aug. 23, 2019

PHOTO CREDIT TERRY PIERSON

GRAND TERRACE — The Riverside North-Grand Terrace Week 0 varsity football game on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, was not what many had expected.

For Riverside North, a win in a season opener is about as refreshing as rain in the Mojave Desert. The Huskies hadn’t won their first game of the season in seven years, and to their credit they didn’t panic when things weren’t going their way early against Grand Terrace. They simply stayed the course. Junior QB Coryon Rayford can keep plays alive with his feet and has a decent enough arm to find openings downfield. He didn’t stay in the pocket very often, but is an accurate thrower on the run and isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder into a defender.

Riverside North head coach Dennis Brown, “The defense played great and kind of kept us in everything, and everyone just stepped up and that was good to see. I see young mistakes (from Coryon Rayford). He’s a great competitor and he doesn’t get rattled. (Grand Terrace) was bringing blitzes from everywhere, they were making stuff happen early, and (Rayford) just stayed the course and made a few plays here and there, and we played good enough defensively. The thing that I liked is that we knew we were playing we defensively, so we were just trying to get a few plays offensively, and then towards the end we were able to get ”Sio’ (Venasio Mikaele) going, and once we got that going we wore them down a little bit, which was nice to see. (On not playing against Mekhi Lewis): It’s huge. He’s just a great player, a super athlete, and I have a ton of respect for him. We had a bunch of guys who didn’t play either, and just like their coach would say, ‘You got to play with the guys you got,’ and we did that. We really weren’t sure what we were going to get tonight, but our guys really stepped up and did a good job.”

For Grand Terrace, playing without star QB Mekhi Lewis didn’t have much of an effect until the second half. The Titans led for much of the first half as junior backup Jaden Wells connected with WR Lonzel Bradford for a pair of TDs, but the first-time QB wilted under the pressure in the second half and failed to move the chains once over the final 24 minutes. Lewis, who also may miss his team’s Week 1 game, is one touchdown pass shy of 50 for his career. Talk on the sideline suggested he has a knee issue – North assistants said they saw him at the JV game on Thursday with his knee in brace or wrap – and the team may just be trying to keep that quiet.

Grand Terrace head coach Ryan Smalls said, “(On Mekhi Lewis): He’ll be back soon. Maybe a week. Way less than a month. In the next two games. (Gladly changing the subject): I thought Jadon Wells had great composure. He managed the game and I’m quite happy. I think it’s first game, working on some timing, working on some different things. If someone had asked me my prediction for the night my prediction would be ‘We’re going to be a better team after the game is over.’ I saw some good things and some things we can improve on. Fixing some timing, fixing some routes, and just some different things. Seeing some guys step up in what is a nice, good rivalry – this is a hard-fought game and that’s what you want. Our defense played well but I think we left them out there a little too long. We had four drives in the second half and we didn’t put it together. We’ve got to put it together.”

BOX SCORE
North – 3 – 7 – 7 – 0 — 17
Grand Terrace – 0 – 14 – 0 – 0 — 14
First quarter

N – Schive 39 FG, 6:08
Second quarter
G – Bradford 10 pass from Wells (Huxhold kick), 11:54
G – Bradford 15 pass from Wells (Huxhold kick), 3:55
N – Baptiste 14 pass from Rayford (Schive kick), 0.0
Third quarter
N – Brooks 20 pass from Rayford (Schive kick), 7:02
Fourth quarter
No scoring
Individual statistics
Rushing
– North: Mikaele 22-98, Rayford 21-17, Adams 1-14, Ah.Elliot 1-20; Grand Terrace: Steptoe 7-53, Morrison 2-4, Compton III 5-2, Balderrama 3-(minus-18).
Passing – North: Rayford 16-21-0-94, Mikaele 0-1-0-0; Grand Terrace: Wells 10-17-0-80, Steptoe 0-1-0-0.
Receiving – North: Baptiste 5-64, Adams 1-16, #8 1-7, Bulger 4-5, Mikaele 1-3, Hendricks 3-0, Al.Elliot 1-0; Grand Terrace: Bradford 5-32, Young 2-30, Steptoe 1-11, Balderrama 1-6, Ostrinski 1-1.
Penalties – North: 10-71; Grand Terrace: 6-55.

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