When Gauchos get rolling, they really roll
Published: Friday, August 30, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 30, 2013 at 11:59 p.m.
Casa Grande High School’s stars shined brightly as the Gauchos sparkled in an impressive 51-13 win over Eureka’s shocked Loggers on the first night of the 2013 high school football season.
Casa Grande 51, Eureka 12
Santa Rosa 33, Petaluma 0
St. Helena 20, Tomales 0
El Molino 25, Willits 0
Analy 37, Pittsburg 21
Cardinal Newman 41, Modesto Christian 21
Windsor 39, Granada 36
Montgomery 51, Pinole Valley 7
After a bit of a sputtering start, the Gauchos took charge to record their first win of what they are confident will be another in a succession of outstanding seasons for he Big House.
The players counted on to lead the Gauchos to another big season more than lived up to expectations.
Senior quarterback JaJuan Lawson did what was anticipated, only he did it better, completing 15 of 22 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a 9-yard score. While Lawson was picking the Eureka secondary apart with a succession of short to middle-range darts, John Porchivina was blasting through gaping holes ripped open by his offensive line for two long touchdown runs, going 61 yards for a score at the outset of the second half and topping that with an 81-yard scoring burst before he retired for the evening with unofficially 187 yards rushing.
“This is a great way to get it started,” said Lawson. He noted that the Gaucho passing game had changed somewhat from last season. “We’re using different routes,” he said. “We’re using more shorter routes this year.”
Defensively, the Gauchos, after being burned early by Eureka quarterback Alexis Robinson, one of the fastest preps in the North Coast Section on both track and football field, generally contained the Loggers’ explosive team speed. “The defense played as a unit,” noted Casa Grande coach Trent Herzog. “We missed some assignments early, but the coaches made some adjustments, we turned it around and started staying home. Once we got rolling, it was a great team effort.
The coach noted especially the play of defensive end Daniel Greisen, who was instrumental in keeping the speedy Loggers from getting to the corners; linebackers Miles Gardea and Casey Longaker and Nick Pleinnikul who anchored the Gaucho defensive line.
Greisen said the key to neutralizing the Logger speed was “good pressure and getting good angles” on Robinson and the Eureka backs.
With the game well decided, both teams went to their bench and Casa’s reserves proved totally dominant. Highlight of a wild fourth quarter was a fumble recovery return to the Eureka 4-yard line by Rogelio Brito, who then scored the touchdown himself on a pass from Brent Eger, and Greisen’s recovery in the end zone for a touchdown of a bad Eureka snap on a punt attempt.
Casa Grande kicker Matt Abramo hit on six of seven PAT attempts, added a 27-yard field goal, and consistently kicked off into the end zone.
One of only two kickoffs he left short of the end zone was returned 98 yards for a touchdown by Eureka’s Jake Gordon, but by then, Casa Grande was already in front by six touchdowns and a field goal.
Eureka actually led early when Robinson managed to slide outside midway through the opening quarter and displayed his jet qualities with an 80-yard run to the end zone.
That was the last time the Loggers had hope. Lawson quickly passed the Gauchos 70 yards with a bevy of accurate throws to an array of receivers, capping the march with his running score. Before the half played out, he passed 21 yards for a touchdown to Gardea and 29 yards for a score to Cody Hughson.
Casa Grande got a wake up call early. In their first possession of the new season, the Gauchos went three and punt. Eureka’s Josh Duffy fumbled the catch on the return and Zakk Molina recovered for the Gauch0s at the Eureka 7-yard line, But again, the Gauchos underachieved. On first down, Porchivina lost two yards. On second down, Lawson gained just two yards, and, on third down, a Lawson pass was incomplete. Miles Gardea missed a 24-yard field goal attempt, and the Gauchos’ first opportunity turned out to be a mirage.
To make matters worse, the Loggers, on their first play following the Casa disappointment, open a slot for Robinson, and, in a heartbeat he was gone — 80 yards to score country. The Loggers missed the extra point, but less than six minutes into the season, the Gauchos had flubbed inside the red zone and given up a big play.
Normalcy, meaning Casa domination, was quick in returning.
Lawson, working behind excellent protection from a front line that included Tanner Shimek, Greg Poteracke, Julian Lopez, Peter Parrick and Alec Runge, passed the Gauchos on an impressive 70-yard drive. The senior completed six of eight passes during the march, throwing to four different receivers. Lawson ran in the first Casa Grande touchdown, bootlegging in from nine yards out. Abramo converted for a 7-6 Casa Grande lead that would grow over the next three periods.
Casa Gande used semi-big plays to stretch its lead before halftime. First it was a perfect strike from Lawson to tight end Gardea for 21 yards and then an even more accurate dart to Cody Hughson for 19 yards that provided touchdowns and a 20-6 Casa halftime advantage.
Porchivina, pretty much bottled up by a swarming Eureka defense in the first half, exploded in a big way in the third quarter. The period was just one play old when he blasted though a hole on the right side of the Casa line, got to the outside, and waved goodbye to the Loggers on his way to a 61-yard touchdown. About six minutes later, he found an equally large gap on the left side of his line, and was gone 81 yards for another touchdown.
With the game firmly in Casa Grande control, the fourth quarter was a fun period played by reserves from both teams.
It began with Abramo sending his field goal squarely through the center of the uprights.
On Eureka’s first play following the 3-pointer, Brito made his fumble recovry and return and, moments later, scored on the pass from Eger. The junior quarterback look to be in complete charge of the Casa Grande offense in his first varsity action, although his passing was limited because of the mounting score.
Greisen added the final Casa Grande points with his touchdown recovery.
Eureka had one bit of final excitement left on a night of excitement. After Greisen’s score, Gordon returned Abramo’s kickoff 98 yards to the house.
in another electrifying display of Logger speed.
It was spectacular, but it meant little in the overall scheme of a Casa Grande-dominated game.
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