Fourth-down and 10 yards to go.
Summerville has possession with 6:45 left in the first quarter.
It’s Friday night in Tuolumne and the Bears are hosting Castlemont.
In a scoreless tie, with the ball at Castlemont’s 17-yard line, Bears head Coach Ben Watson calls timeout and huddles his players.
“I thought it was a great call,” said Bears right guard Danny Brunolli. “I had a really good feeling about what was coming.”
Summerville receiver Dalton Day lined up on the right side with initial responsibilities of blocking Castlemont’s defensive end. After his block, Day was supposed to slant back right — to the flag.
“I knew this was a good play-call,” said Bears quarterback Jesse Roberson. “It’s a boot and I had the option to run.”
“Dalton is the down-blocker, sealing the edge and Jesse rolls out with a run-option,” explained Watson. “We hope they lose track of Dalton in the wash. If this play works, it works real well. If not, it’s a big mess.”
Roberson took the snap and rolled right. Day went to block Castlemont’s defensive end but he wasn’t on the line.
“Their defensive end just dropped back into pass coverage,” said Day. “He looked like he was playing zone coverage.”
So Day ran his route into the endzone.
Castlemont’s safety rushed after Roberson.
“The read was easy,” said Roberson. “Once their guy was coming after me I figured Day would be open.”
Roberson let fly a tight perfect spiral.
“I saw the pass because their D-line just stopped rushing as soon as they saw the ball go,” said Bears center Jesse Stoy. “It was the perfect call for that situation and Jesse threw it perfectly.”
Day’s eyes widened.
“I was just thinking,” said Day, “ ‘Don’t drop it.’ ”
The Bears had themselves a 7-0 lead.
From there, Roberson stayed hot, Summerville’s defense — led by lineman Darren Vallelunga — was tenacious, the Bears led 28-6 at halftime and eventually walked off Thorsted Field 35-12 victors.
“We’re starting to mesh together as a team,” said Roberson, who threw three touchdown passes in the game (17, 35 and 37 yards). “Our chemistry is a lot better and we’re playing like a good football team should.”
After suffering losses in its first two contests, the Bears are now 2-2.
“It would have been nicer to see us keep that momentum going in the second half tonight,” said Day. “But we came out fired up, played a strong first half and took that big lead.”
“Our offensive line (tackles Tyler Oliver and Cole Busch, Stoy, Brunolli, and left guard Vallelunga) did a great job again tonight,” said Bears running back Tanner Krieg. “Ground-and-pound. We took control of the clock completely.”
Up 7-6 with three seconds left in the first quarter, Summerville faced fourth-and-12 at Castlemont’s 35.
Krieg lined up at right flanker, ran a seam route towards the post and Roberson fired an on-the-money bullet. Krieg caught the ball on the dead run at the 10 and blasted his way into the endzone.
Perfect pass for sure.
“But,” said Krieg, “I actually ran the wrong route. I was supposed to run the wheel (a fade to the sideline) but instead I ran that seam in between their corner and safety.”
“Even though Krieg didn’t run the right route,” said Roberson, “I think the three ‘Go’s’ confused their team.”
And Watson’s reaction? Ever the perfectionist, he’s not fond of mis-run routes. On the other hand, he does have a soft spot in his heart for touchdowns, too.
“Coach will forgive me,” said Krieg, with a smile. “But I think this is the only time he’ll forgive me.”
“Well,” said Watson with a laugh, “Tanner says I forgave him? I did take it much easier on Tanner than I could have. He’s in a little less trouble than he could have been.
“In all seriousness, Tanner knows he made a mistake, but we all make mistakes — players and coaches. But Tanner ran that route with effort and he never gave up on the play. He gave it 100 percent.”
Also pleasing to Watson, Krieg is showing a hunger for the endzone. Krieg has scored five touchdowns in the last three weeks.
With 2:22 left in the first half on Friday, Krieg scored on a 1-yard plunge upping Summerville’s lead to 28-6.
Six minutes prior, Bears fullback Trevor Larsson had scored on a 5-yard blast up the gut.
For the contest, Larsson carried six times for 27 yards, Krieg 11-for-35 and Joe Langi 13-for-34. Summerville gained a total of 111 yards rushing on 35 carries.
Roberson completed 6-of-12 passes for 118 yards with no interceptions.
“This was a nice game for Jesse,” said Watson. “He was throwing the ball real well and was making good reads. He showed some guts. He stayed in that pocket and took some hits after he let the ball go and, if he keeps improving, he will be real tough in our league.”
“I’ve been working a lot with Coach Watson and (Quarterbacks) Coach (Larry) Gold and I just feel a lot better with everything overall,” said Roberson. “I feel like I’m making better reads and more accurate throws.”
Summerville held Castlemont (1-3) to a grand total of four yards passing and 147 rushing.
Vallelunga had a game-high nine tackles — including four for losses — a recovered fumble and a sack. At linebacker, Stoy had eight tackles, Zach Dollarhide six and Larsson five. Lineman Busch had seven tackles. At safety, Langi had five. Dollarhide had a sack and defensive back Simon Falbe an interception.
On Friday night, for the first time, Summerville assistant softball coach Ray Emerald was on the Bears sideline whistle-to-whistle. Summerville travels some three hours up to Yuba City on Friday to take on the Honkers (1-3). All of which means that Watson, with a tip of the cap to superstition, has Emerald in this week’s game plan.
“Ray went to college (for baseball) in Yuba City and he brought us luck tonight,” said Watson. “So we’ll find him a spot on our bus for Friday night. Now that we know he’s good luck, we’re bringing him along.”
The Union Democrat is now online in a Replica E-edition form and publishes Tuesday through Saturday. E-Edition or Print Plus subscribers have full access.
If you are not a current subscriber, subscribe today for immediate access. Circulation: 209-533-3614
Weekly Arts and entertainment guide for Calaveras and Tuolumne counties