For those that thrive on spine-tingling, thrilling football games — when the home team prevails by the narrowest of margins — Friday night, Sept. 15 at Coast Union offered a feast for the senses.
Coming off two one-sided defeats, the Broncos battled through adversity — playing their best football of the season — to defeat the Riverdale Christian Ambassadors 29-28.
Practically every Bronco player had a hand in this win, although team spirits were diminished briefly in the second quarter when senior Andres Quintero went down with a “dislocated elbow,” according to head coach Ron Garcia.
Garcia said the injury is “definitely going to impact out team given our lack of depth. Andres is our best pulling guard and our quickest defensive lineman.” The coach is not sure if or when Quintero will return.
Three critical components contributed to Coast’s first win of the season.
1) Senior quarterback Riley Kennedy rammed through the line and rumbled around the defense for 123 gritty yards — including scoring runs of 1 and 8 yards. He passed for 122 yards more, hooking up with Emany Plasencia on a pair of scoring tosses.
“We put a lot more practice into our passing game last week,” Kennedy said in a phone interview Saturday, “but on some of the passes I got a lot of help, great catches, from Eddie and Emany — making me look like a greater quarterback than I am.”
Kennedy also made seven tackles and sealed the win by intercepting a last-gasp pass from Ambassador signal-caller Coy Bohannan with 1 minute, 26 seconds left.
2) Sophomore Plasencia had an outstanding game. In addition to his touchdown catches, he scored on runs of 19 and 35 yards and completed a 31-yard pass to senior Eddie Camacho. His booming kickoffs pinned the Ambassadors deep in their own territory, and he booted four extra points after Coast touchdowns.
3) The blocking from the front line for Coast provided some nifty holes for Kennedy, Plasencia and Damian Fernandez (who gained 59 yards rushing) to run through. Spencer Magnuson, Brian Bautista, Luis Aguilar and Nic Robertson consistently provided solid blocking on offense — and they executed their tackling tasks more effectively than in the two previous games.
Noting that “everything is improving” on the team at this point, Kennedy said, “It all starts up front. I wouldn’t have been able to do anything” without improved blocking from the line.
As for the defense, Garcia mentioned in an email interview that the defensive line played “better late in the game, but we still need much better play from them,” particularly on sweeps around Coast’s corners.
Camacho led the defense with 13 tackles; Magnuson had four tackles and recovered a fumble; Plasencia and Fernandez each had three tackles; and Christian Castillo, Bautista and Aguilar all chipped in with a pair of tackles. Fernandez also had a fumble recovery for the Broncos.
Coast Union (1-2) hosts the Kings Christian Crusaders (3-1) at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22. That game can be heard on KTEA-FM (103.5) and streams live on www.103ktea.com.