Prep Impressions: Nov. 5, 2021

RIVERSIDE – The Capistrano Valley-Riverside North varsity football game on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, was everything one could want out of the first 12 minutes – big plays, big hits, back-and-forth scoring – but then reality set in.

For Capistrano Valley, junior QB Trey Kukuk (pictured) could be an all-time great but he lacks the supporting cast to make all his offensive production stand up. He’s got a little John Elway in him and can run and run, but also came up short on a number of throws that would make him a sure-fire NCAA Division 1 player. Defenses were smart to Capo Valley’s one-way approach this season, however, and could either stop the run game, contain Kukuk or blanket his receivers or – like Riverside North – do all three.

Capistrano Valley head coach Sean Curtis: “We do have a lot of heart and a lot of grit with this football team. We felt like they had such a good season that maybe that hadn’t played a full four quarters all year so our mentality was, ‘Just get a couple of stops.’ We knew it was going to be tough to slow them down but I told the defense before the game, ‘Give me two stops (and) let the offense try to win some possessions.’ But we just didn’t have enough firepower in the end to get over the top, but (North) is a good football team. (Getting outside the pocket) is definitely something (Kukuk) does very well. It’s something we coach him up on to be himself, but I think there was a little too much freelancing in this game. We asked him to win it with his legs a little more that he tried to at the end, just moving the chains to keep us on the field, but he’s so athletic and so explosive that you don’t want to over-coach him and tell him to never leave to pocket because he does do that very well. The interceptions hurt (but) he’s only a junior. It’s crazy that he’s going to get that much better next year, but Trey is not the reason we lost this game. They came out and played a good game and we gave them everything we had.”

For Riverside North, Venasio Mikaele ran for 14 yards on his first touch and it was mostly downhill from there as the Huskies ran for more than 300 yards as a team in the win. For those who like that sort of thing, it was a pleasure to see an offensive line thoroughly shred a defensive front seven. And watching Mikaele lower his shoulder to finish off runs is a thing of beauty. Not to make mention of the Huskies’ defense, which shut out Capistrano Valley in the second half.

Riverside North head coach Opalani Viapulu: “Playoffs football is a game of momentum. We wanted to have the momentum and finish the game. I think at the beginning we just didn’t play our football. We kind of got a little to cute, and once we settled down and played our defensive football I think we played a lot better second half and it showed by shutting them out (in the second half). It’s awesome. We get to play another week. We’re blessed to say that. A lot of teams have to go home today so with playoff football you just take it one at a time. Now we got this one out of the way we’ll celebrate tonight and figure who we got next week and go from there.”

Capistrano Valley – 14 – 7 – 0 – 0 — 21
Riverside North – 14 – 14 – 0 – 20 — 48
First quarter

N – Mikaele 8 run (Zavala kick), 8:29
C – Benedix 5 pass from Kukuk (Fingersh kick), 5:43
N – Mikaele 10 run (Zavala kick), 3:15
C – Cassidy 5 run (Fingersh kick), 2:04
Second quarter
C – Benedix 13 pass from Kukuk (Fingersh kick), 6:30
N – Elliott 7 run (Zavala kick), 2:11
N – Mikaele 2 run (Zavala kick), 0:43
Third quarter
No scoring
Fourth quarter
N – Mikaele 26 run (Zavala kick), 9:22
N – Elliott 31 run (Zavala kick), 7:14
N – Shannon 4 run (kick failed), 1:37
Team statistics
Total plays
– Capistrano Valley 65; North 54.
First downs
– Capistrano Valley 16; North 16.
Penalties – Capistrano Valley 9-58; North 17-142.
Turnovers – Capistrano Valley 3; North 1.
Individual statistics
Rushing
– Capistrano Valley: Kukuk 10-101, Cassidy 5-27; North: Elliott 13-153, Mikaele 16-136, Gamble 7-30, Shannon 3-5.
Passing – Capistrano Valley: Kukuk 23-50-3-231; North: Gamble 9-13-0-123, Shannon 1-2-0-8.
Receiving – Capistrano Valley: Hopkins 7-99, Benedix 9-88, Taylor 4-24, Sievers 1-12, Cassidy 2-12; North: Calhoun 4-82, Allala 3-33, Mikaele 1-9, Granger 1-7, Elliott 1-0.
Interceptions – Capistrano Valley: None; North: Lindsey 2-17, Hughes 1-0.

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