Seconds after the scoreboard clock clicked down to 0:00 Friday night, Oct. 14, marking the first Coast Union victory in this difficult season, there was a loud, spontaneous celebration on the Bronco football field — and it wasn’t just the players.
An exuberant throng of Coast Union students rushed onto the field to hug and high-five the players. Fans in the bleachers were amused by the wildly celebrating students as they shouted, pumped fists in the air, jumped up and down in sync with the players and carried on as though the Broncos had just won the Super Bowl.
The 25-14 victory over the Valley Christian Academy Lions — a Coast Valley League opponent — was extra sweet for Coast Union after being drubbed by lopsided scores through the first five games.
This Broncos team has come a long way from the early season, when there was a dearth of players that had signed on to the team, and the coaches were working to simply provide basic football instruction to many student-athletes who came out late.
And after losing five games, and canceling one against a far superior foe (Cate School), the Broncos came into the game against the Lions on a mission: to dig in and tighten up strategically on defense; to play tough on special teams; to provide the blocking strategies that allow quarterback Riley Kennedy time to find receivers; and to block correctly, providing ball carriers with a bit of daylight to grind out yardage on the ground.
(We’re) miles ahead of what we were just a month ago. … These kids are tough, and the coaches are so proud of them.
Thom Holt, Coast Union head football coach
Head coach Thom Holt wrote in an email that the passing game was “better than I expected, and our defense showed that ‘Bronco Swarm,’ ” but he added that the running game “stalled.”
In practice this week, Holt said coaches will be working on “run blocking and defense recognition so that we will be on all cylinders with ground and air attack.”
The coach praised his players for bringing their game “miles ahead of what we were just a month ago. … These kids are tough, and the coaches are so proud of them.”
Unofficial statistics reflect that the running game was shared among five Broncos. Juan Meja picked up 15 yards on the ground, and Alam Ramirez added 14. Several times, Kennedy went back to pass and, finding no receivers open, took off running; all told, he picked up 24 yards, including a touchdown on a quarterback keeper. Diego Leonardo chipped in with 5 tough yards from scrimmage.
Emany Plasencia continued to demonstrate his outstanding kicking talent. All his kickoffs sailed into the Lions’ end zone, preventing runbacks. He nailed a field goal and several extra points. Plasencia also caught passes, using his excellent speed and dexterity to gain 65 yards.
On the defensive side, Warren Smith made seven solo tackles. Kennedy was in on 15 tackles (both solo and assisted tackles); Andres Quintero, Camacho and Anthony Stonehill were in on seven tackles; and Leonardo, Luis Aguilar and Gary Lyons were credited with involvement in three tackles.
Eddie Camacho alertly snagged a spinning football out of the air and ran 30 yards for a touchdown after a Coast Union defender tipped a Lions’ pass.
The team (1-1 in the CVL) travels to face league opponent Shandon at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22. KTEA-FM (103.5) will broadcast the game live.