It was going to be 42-38 or 38-35. There was going to be more points scored than programs sold. The stat guys weren’t going to need a pen and paper but instead a calculator and a quick index finger. The scoreboard operator was going to be on high alert and the officials were going to need their track shoes.
This was going to be a high voltage, high electricity affair. So everyone was shocked when the clock hit zeroes and the scoreboard read San Gabriel 9 Maranatha 0. A couple of prep websites were so shocked that they had the score wrong. As of Sunday night they had San Gabriel winning 9-3. But no, Maranatha was shut out all right. The team that had averaged over 33 points per game in the regular season couldn’t get the ball in the end zone or through the uprights.
“We saw them on film and that’s the best defense they played all year,” said Maranatha Coach Pete Karavedas. “I thought our defense played pretty well but their defense was the X factor. They kept us out of the end zone.”
But how did San Gabriel do it? How did a team that allowed 59 points to San Dimas just eight weeks ago and 43 to Muir in the season opener completely shut down a high powered offense like Maranatha?
“I think our kids were tired of hearing about how they didn’t really stand a chance in this game,” said San Gabriel Coach Jude Oliva. “Our kids responded to that.”
Responded they did. Maranatha had only one real chance to score and that came on its second possession of the game. The Minutemen moved the ball down to the 12 yard line of San Gabriel before a penalty pushed them back and they ultimately missed a 40 yard field goal. That was the only time Maranatha was in Matador territory.
Quarterback Andrew Elffers was intercepted twice and the rest of the Minutemen possessions resulted in punts. Elffers finished the night 9 for 19 for 73 yards and the two picks. The running attack didn’t fare much better. Omar Younger gained 87 yards but needed 20 carries to do it. Again how did this happen?
“We just tried to mix it up,” said San Gabriel DC Donald Bernard. “We blitzed some but not a lot because we knew how dangerous Elffers was and we didn’t want to leave guys open in the secondary. A lot of times we had just three guys rushing and tried to keep the receivers covered. This forced Elffers out of the pocket at times and that’s what we wanted.”
The scheme worked. Elffers was sacked four times and was forced to tuck it and run several times. He broke off one run for 14 yards but other than that he was held in check. Explosive receivers Darien McGee and Cliff Martin combined for six catches between them for just 33 yards. Usually one of them has that in the first quarter.
“We were concerned about them making big plays so we tried to key on them,” Bernard said McGee and Martin. Alex Villaobos had an interception as the clock ran out in the first half. Eric Alvarez, who battled Andy Guerrero for the starting quarterback position all summer, picked off Elffers in the fourth quarter that led to the only touchdown of the game.
Everybody contributed. While Alvarez and Villalobos were doing the job in the secondary guys like Carlos Purser, Joseph Baca and Mackenzie Ferro were applying the pressure on Elffers. Jasper Hernandez, Hunter Garcia, and Joey Villalobos also came up big.
“I could probably name the entire defense,” said SG assistant Daniel Bernard. “Everybody stepped up.”
The Matadors now have another elite quarterback to deal with this week – Steven Rivera of Arroyo. Can they contain him?
“I don’t know. He’s a great player!” Oliva said.
Yeah so is Elffers. That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org