Prep Impressions: March 18, 2021

NORCO — The Corona Santiago-Norco Week 1-A varsity football game on Thursday, March 18, 2021, was a breath of fresh air.

For Santiago, it’s clearly not been about football these last 14 months. And that’s fine because the program is large enough to remain self-sustaining, but also not fine because there is such a gap between the Sharks and their rivals. As the team slipped further and further behind to Norco on Thursday, one Sharks fan parked high above Norco’s field made sure the whole stadium could hear his displeasure with the situation and the team’s head coach. Annoying? Yeah, but he got quiet when Santiago reeled off a 14-play scoring drive in the fourth quarter.

Santiago coach Scott Morrison said, “I mean, we’ve been talking about this for weeks. The overwhelming majority of our players have not played a down of football since the second week of November in 2019. We know we’re up against it and our guys know we’re up against, and we said before the game, ‘We’ve already won.’ The scoreboard is going to be what the scoreboard is going to be, and people are going to make light of that, but the truth is I think both of these teams won before the game was played because we’re playing high school football. We didn’t think, less than a month ago that we’re gonna play any football, so the fact that we are playing is a positive. We obviously have a lot of things that we need to be better but it’s really a challenge. We’ve had 14 practices and no opportunity against other people, and again that’s not an excuse but just a reality, and I thought that over the course of that game our play got better. Our kids – we got cleaner. We tackled better and we ran our stuff with more efficiency, and we’re certainly up against it in the first few weeks, but we’re excited to have the opportunity. When I told our guys on February 26th that football season was going to happen, we had a lot of kids who had moved on to other sports, and they said, ‘Coach, if we play I’m coming back. Please let me know,’ and they had moved on to other sports, and we said, ‘Hey, guess what guys? We’re playing and they were back the next day and ready to go and and were excited about it. So there’s a lot of real positives and I’m just happy for our guys.”

For Norco, there is a feeling of optimism that this season can be a turning point and that 2021 might be the Cougars’ year. The team looked formidable in their opener, totally in sync on offense and almost unstoppable in the first half. Junior QB Kyle Crum is a big-time gunslinger and can make all the throws at this level. His play-calling pace felt like it could be close to matching Centennial’s, but it’s been too long to say definitively. We’ll just have to wait a couple of weeks for that matchup.

Norco coach Chuck Chastian said, “We always try to be pretty fast but yes, we have worked on it and we’ve got a different group the guys than in the past. We have a lot of young guys but we’ve got some special guys. So yeah – be fast, play fast. Obviously, we’ve got the big game coming so we’ve just got to get better every week, and this is a good win. It’s been a long time. This was a league opponent, a rival, and we came out and took care of business.”

BOX SCORE
Santiago – 0 – 0 – 0 – 6 — 6
Norco – 28 – 16 – 7 – 0 — 51
First quarter

N – Rodriguez 21 pass from Crum (Irvin kick), 10:10
N – Rosendahl 25 run (Irvin kick), 7:34
N – Kaleiwahea 18 run (Irvin kick), 3:02
N – Gray 23 pass from Crum (Irvin kick), 0:27
Second quarter
N – Rosendahl 5 run (Irvin kick), 7:22
N – Rodriguez 26 pass from Crum (Irvin kick), 3:44
N – Safety, 2:39
Third quarter
N – Zentner 50 int. return (Irvin kick), 11:25
Fourth quarter
S – Tubbs 1 run (kick failed), 2:30
Individual statistics
Rushing
– Santiago: Sanders 9-15, Tubbs 14-(minus-11); Norco: Rosendahl 14-79, Kaleiwahea 9-60, Tarver 5-44, Manley 1-7, Miller 1-5, Crum 2-4.
Passing – Santiago: Tubbs 8-22-1-68; Norco: Crum 17-23-0-235.
Receiving – Santiago: Siemsen 5-27, Jacques 2-26, Bejines 2-14, #20 1-1; Norco: Monje 6-78, Rodriguez 4-58, Lemus 4-57, Ibbetson 3-24, Rosendahl 1-9, Thomas 1-9.
Penalties – Santiago: 6-33; Norco 12-108.

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