By DAN GOLDMAN
The Summerville High School football team will run into an up-and-coming program when it travels to Gustine on Friday night for its third game of the season.
The Redskins, coming off a 3-6 season and a fourth-place finish in the Southern League, are off to their best start in more than a decade after opening the 2002 campaign with victories of 56-17 over Patterson and 20-7 over Linden.
"This is as good a start as we've had here in 16 years," said fourth-year Gustine coach Jeremy Plaa, whose team features eight returning starters on each side of the ball. "We knew we would be a lot better than last year because we knew we had a good combination of juniors and seniors coming through this year."
One key senior Gustine won't have on the field will be senior quarterback Brian Fabela (12 completions in 17 attempts for 200 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions), who will be serving a one-game suspension after racking up two personal fouls during the Linden game.
Fabela will be replaced by junior Justin Ramsour, who only completed two passes in six attempts for five yards, but led the Redskins on two touchdown drives and did not commit a turnover in relief duty against Linden. This will be Ramsour's first varsity start.
"We've almost got it turned completely around now where we think we should at least be in, if not win, every game that we're in," Plaa said. "We still think we can win even with Fabela out."
With Ramsour behind center, Gustine will rely heavily on a rushing game led by tailback Joao Palomino (100-plus yards against Linden) and fullback Jon Gerhardt (three rushing touchdowns, one receiving touchdown) as well as a short passing game which will feature tight end Mike Mendonca (6-1, 230 pounds) and wide receiver Sean Carr (6-0, 170).
"We match up pretty well with Mother Lode League teams because we're pretty big up front (6-5, 240-pounder Kaman Poole anchors the offense line) and we run the ball about 70 percent of the time," Plaa said.