SACRAMENTO — “We must start executing every down,” said Bears junior linebacker Trevor Larsson. “I thought we worked really hard tonight, honestly. But we have to work on holding on to the ball. We must take care of the football.”
Summerville trailed host Bradshaw Christian 14-7 at halftime on Friday night in Sacramento. But three Summerville second-half turnovers (six total) did in the Bears and Bradshaw won 49-14.
Larsson was hitting. The 5-foot-10, 205-pounder had a game-high 15 tackles.
“Overall,” said Larsson, “we didn’t execute enough. To win, we have to have the football more than we did.”
Bradshaw had the time-of-possession advantage: 33:03 to 14:57.
“They scored quick on us, but then our defense stepped it up,” said junior running back Tanner Krieg who had a team-high 105 all-purpose yards. “I do think we started out relatively strong. But there were too many penalties by us (8-for-49 yards total) and too many turnovers.”
On the contest’s first play from scrimmage, Summerville left tackle Cole Busch and left guard Darren Vallelunga opened a huge hole and tailback Joe Langi zipped through it and picked up 18 yards.
However, minutes later, Summerville was unable to convert a fourth-and-1 and Bradshaw took over at the Bears 39-yard line. With 5:52 left in the quarter, Bradshaw’s Erik Dulock scored on an 11-yard run.
With less than a minute played in the second quarter, and Bradshaw up 14-0, Krieg was on the receiving end of a screen pass that garnered 29 yards down to Bradshaw’s 4-yard line.
Moments later, Bears junior fullback Joey Brocchini rushed two yards for his second touchdown in as many games and Summerville cut Bradshaw’s lead to seven.
With 8:57 left in the third quarter, still up 14-7, Bradshaw had possession at Summerville’s 40-yard line and faced third-and-5. Bradshaw called time-out and the resulting play was a double-reverse.
Such quick transference had the public address announcer fooled but not Bears defensive end Vallelunga who sniffed a rat and stuffed receiver Taylor Blackford for a meager 3-yard gain.
The next snap, on fourth-and-2, Bradshaw handed to halfback L.J. Upshire who purposely ran away from Vallelunga.
Vallelunga bulldozed a blocker, dashed over to Upshire and promptly dropped the 5-11, 185-pound running back for a 2-yard loss.
For the contest, Vallelunga had 14 tackles — an astonishingly high amount of takedowns for a defensive end.
“Well,” said Vallelunga, a 6-foot, 198-pound junior, “we were doing good until later in the second half. But from now on, we have to play harder, not give up and always think positive — no matter what.”
Bradshaw scored two rushing touchdowns late in the third quarter and three more in the fourth to earn its second win of the season. The Bears fell to 0-2.
Besides Vallelunga and Larsson, others who stood out on the defensive side were safeties Dalton Day, Brocchini and Langi. Day had 12 tackles, Brocchini 10 and Langi seven. Day and Langi each recovered a fumble. Two of Langi’s tackles were for losses.
Which brings up a question ...
We all knew about Vallelunga, Larsson, Day and Brocchini being tenacious, nasty and hard-hitting defenders.
But where the heck did this 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior Joe Langi come from?
“Joe Langi is the real deal,” said Larsson. “He worked hard all summer. He’s ready to go now and prove what he can do.”
“He hadn’t played football since his freshman year, so he’s behind a bit mentally as to where he needs to be all the time,” said Bears head coach Ben Watson of Langi. “Keeping that in mind, we do like what we’re seeing of him. He’s getting better and, hopefully, he’ll keep getting better.”
It was Langi who scored Summerville’s final touchdown, that on a 3-yard fourth-quarter run with 8:34 left.
“Tanner Krieg made a really good block for me,” explained Langi, “and I just followed right behind him and kept running hard.”
As for his defensive aggressiveness, Langi said, “I just listen to what Coach (Sean) Leveroos (defensive coordinator) keeps saying to me, ‘Cut upfield and get after it.’ ”
On offense, Langi gained 27 yards rushing total on five carries. Krieg carried five times for 43 yards, and Brocchini rushed six times for 24. Altogether, Summerville gained 94 yards on the ground, an average of 4.4 per carry.
Watson gave some kudos to offensive linemen Busch, Vallelunga, center Jesse Stoy, right guard Danny Brunolli and right tackle Tyler Oliver.
“I thought our O-line made some nice blocks,” said Watson. “For the most part, I thought our run blocking was good. We just kept coughing up the ball and you cannot do that and expect to win a football game.”
Bears quarterback Jesse Roberson completed 12-of-24 passes for 145 yards. His favorite target was Brocchini who had seven receptions for 67 yards. Krieg had four catches for 62.
Summerville hosts Denair on Friday for homecoming.
“We’re a little down on ourselves right now,” said Krieg. “But with harder hitting and faster running, hopefully we get this win on Friday and then get this all going in the right direction.”
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