After host Summerville was defeated in its 2011 season opener by Mariposa 21-15 on Thursday night, Bears running back Tanner Krieg guaranteed what would be a featured event at Friday’s practice.
“Laps,” said Krieg. “We will be running a lot of laps.”
More than any type of punishment for a loss, the Bear brass — and Krieg agrees — feel Summerville, collectively, is not in proper condition.
“As a team we’re out of shape,” said Krieg. “Our conditioning needs to improve, we know that.”
“Tonight,” said Bears head coach Ben Watson, “we were either mentally fatigued or physically fatigued. We also had a lot of kids who hadn’t played at the varsity level before tonight, so they weren’t used to the speed of the game. Which is why we cannot have any player ever take a down off.
“Well, tonight, we had everybody taking some plays off. You can’t do that. You have to play every single down hard. You can’t pick and choose when you’re gonna play hard. And I think that’s what happened tonight — we took some downs off. We had kids not playing through the whistle.”
Still, despite the loss, Watson mentioned one positive part of Thursday’s contest.
“The defense,” he said. “I think the big picture is our defense played well enough for us to win this football game. (Defensive coordinator) Sean Leveroos’ scheme was good.”
Summerville forced Mariposa to punt on its first possession of the evening.
The Bears took over at their own 40 and promptly marched 60 yards in let’s-take-care-of-business fashion. The 13-play drive chewed up over five minutes of clock.
The drive’s best play was fullback Trevor Larsson blasting through Mariposa’s defense for a 20-yard gain after linemen Cole Busch and Darren Vallelunga opened up a spacious hole. The beauty of Larsson’s rush is that his knees didn’t touch ground until five Grizzlies finally were able to corral him.
Krieg capped off this drive with a 6-yard touchdown run, and Summerville led 7-0.
“Then, after that first scoring drive,” said Watson, “our offense went flat.”
Mariposa was able to put together a scoring drive of its own, tallying on a 17-yard pass from Jimmy Neri to Wyatt Ellis, and the score was tied.
With 2:05 left in the first half, Mariposa scored off an 11-yard run by Tyler Gollyhorn and led 14-7.
Summerville went four-and-out and then Mariposa, after rushing gains of 9, 13 and 15 yards, was at the Bears’ 19-yard line with 16 seconds left.
Mariposa attempted a short slant pass which Summerville strong safety Joey Brocchini promptly picked off at the 15-yard line.
“I just dropped straight to the flats,” explained Brocchini. “And I just saw the ball and picked it off.”
“Joey got a good jump on that ball and made a good play,” said Watson. “He kept them from scoring and that’s a positive. He stopped the bleeding for awhile. But, in the end, when you look at this whole game, it was our offense that did not execute.”
Summerville wasn’t able to gain a first down on its first second-half possession, punted, and Mariposa took over at the Bears’ 45.
Thanks largely to two Summerville penalties which totaled 32 yards, Mariposa moved down to the Bears’ 11. On first down, Grizzly tailback Yussif Sulaiman rushed those 11 yards into the endzone and Mariposa led 21-7.
Summerville’s final score came with three seconds left in the contest.
After taking a short slant pass from Jesse Roberson, Brocchini dodged one linebacker, cut inside, turned another defender completely around, darted outside, broke one tackle, kept running, ran over another defender, and scampered into the endzone.
“The play called for was a double slant,” said Brocchini, of his 18-yard touchdown reception. “And I had a feeling that the ball would be coming to me.”
Trailing 21-15, Summerville tried an onside kick but Mariposa recovered to end the contest.
Roberson passed for 156 yards off 14 completions. Brocchini had three receptions for 33 yards, and Dalton Day caught four balls for 47 yards. Jason Taylor had two receptions for 23 yards, and tight end Connor Morningstar also had two receptions for 23 yards.
Morningstar, a 6-5, 185-pound junior, showed a nasty streak in his first-ever varsity contest. On one of his receptions, he didn’t hit lawn until four Grizzlies brought him down.
“It was exciting for me to be out there tonight,” said Morningstar. “I had a lot of adrenaline.”
From his free safety spot, Day had a game-high 17 tackles. Defensive backs Joe Langi, Morningstar, Zac Dollarhide and Brocchini had four tackles apiece.
Bears middle linebacker Jesse Stoy had a terrific game: Six tackles, including two quarterback sacks and two takedowns of Grizzly runners behind the line of scrimmage.
“I was going 100 percent out there and hoping for the best,” said Stoy. “On blitzes, I had my opportunities and took ‘em.”
Larsson had a sack from his linebacker spot as did Bears nose guard Robbie Brunolli.
“I think we could have won this one,” said Brunolli. “I think we blew some opportunities. Our lungs aren’t where they should be yet.
“We will re-charge and keep progressing, and we still feel that we can definitely become a championship-caliber football team.”