By SIM RISSO
For The Union Democrat
The Calaveras Redskins football team is one that is accustomed to success. But the same thing can definitely be said of their upcoming opponent, the Modesto Christian Crusaders.
Over the past five seasons, both Calaveras and Modesto Christian have compiled the same won-loss record: 38-12, not including the playoffs. But during that span the Crusaders have had more success in the postseason, actually winning the Division IV State Championship in 2009. Calaveras, meanwhile, has had more postseason success of late, making a run to the Division IV section championship game last season, while the Crusaders missed the playoffs altogether.
Currently, Modesto Christian is led by starting quarterback Nathan Sudfeld. Sudfeld—a strong-armed, 6-foot-5, 215-pound monster — has committed to the University of Arizona for next season.
As you might expect out of a Division I prospect, Sudfeld has gotten off to a very strong start this season, completing 26 of 48 passes for 426 yards with six touchdowns and one interception in the Crusaders’ first two games. He should definitely provide a challenge for the Redskins’ defense.
“Their pass game is pretty awesome,” said Calaveras head coach Jason Weatherby. “It’s unlike any we’ll see this year.”
Sudfeld isn’t the most mobile of quarterbacks, as evidenced by his minus-17 rushing yards on the season. But due to Sudfeld’s gigantic stature, bringing him down without multiple defenders is easier said than done.
“I think that it gives us a challenge and something to strive for because Coach was saying he hasn’t been sacked by one guy before,” said senior fullback and inside linebacker Austin Weatherby. “It takes a couple guys to bring him down, so if we’re able to sack him with only one guy I’m going to be happy.”
But as defensive coordinator Doug Clark says, don’t let the presence of Sudfeld fool you, Modesto Christian has a pretty balanced offense, mixing the run and the pass.
“They’ll run, run, run, run then hit you with the pass,” said Clark. “Then they’ll pass 12 times in a row. It’s inconsistent, which is hard defensively, good offensively because you can’t get set to one style. They’re not just going to come out and pass the whole game. They can hurt you with the run — easily. Then when you stop the run, that’s when they’re going to hit you with the pass.”
Slowing down the Modesto Christian offense is certainly going to be easier said than done. The Crusaders have shown the ability to put points on the board in their first two games of the season, scoring 34 points in each contest.
Their defense, on the other hand, has allowed 28 points and 41 points in their first two games, so the Redskins should be able to put some points on the board against Modesto Christian. Of course, the Redskins will need to play efficiently in order to do that.
“We have to sustain some long drives,” said Coach Weatherby. “I thought we did a pretty good job last week of sustaining drives and balancing up run with pass. We have to do that. We have to balance it up and we have to make sure that we hold onto the ball and don’t give up turnovers. Turnovers are going to be a big factor in this.”
One other factor that could play a role in the game is that it’s the Redskins’ first home game of the season. Having the Calaveras faithful behind them will hopefully provide an added boost to the Redskin players.
“I think because it’s a home game, we’re really going to step it up,” said senior guard Noah Shuler. “I think it will be a really good game, especially because we’re fired up.”
All in all, this is looking to be an entertaining game. It’s got talented players and coaches on both sides. Not to mention, what is sure to be an electrified crowd at Frank Meyer Field for the Redskins’ home opener.