The Lompoc High School football team stars were out in full force Friday night to lead the Braves to a 44-7 win over host Arroyo Grande to open the 2017 season.
Toa Taua — Lompoc’s long-haired running back and the top college prospect on the Central Coast — opened the season with a bang. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Taua opened the scoring with a spinning, 40-yard touchdown run to cap an 83-yard drive to start the game.
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His second touchdown of the night — a 20-yard slicing run — put Lompoc up 41-0 in the third quarter.
Lompoc quarterback Xavier Nix went 8 of 10 for 166 yards and two long touchdown passes to big wide receiver Shemar Savage.
Junior Kadin Byrne got the start at quarterback for Arroyo Grande, but he and sophomore quarterback Caleb Tomasin traded series all night. Neither could get the offense going against a stout Lompoc defense that included defensive linemen Juan DeLuna and linebacker Leondre Coleman. Arroyo Grande had just one first down in the first half, and its only two passes completed in the game were from Tomasin.
Arroyo Grande running back James Gilmet was met in the backfield by defenders all night and finished with 8 yards on seven carries. Byrne led the team in rushing with 29 yards on nine carries in a game where all five offensive linemen started for the first time.
The lone touchdown for the Eagles came when Gilmet returned a kickoff 85 yards for the score.
“For a lot of guys that was their first taste of varsity football,” Arroyo Grande head coach Mike Hartman said. “It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon. We will get better. They know what it’s like now.”
Hartman wouldn’t say if he would continue with the two-quarterback system.
Farley Wreaks Havoc
On at least four occasions, Arroyo Grande senior defensive linemen John Farley appeared to be the instigator in scuffles with Lompoc players. He was sent off the field during an extra point early in the game and given an unsportsmanlike like penalty. In the fourth quarter, Farley climbed over Lompoc wide receiver Shemar Savage and received another penalty, this time resulting in an ejection.
“It was a game to him,” Lompoc coach Andrew Jones said. “He would do something, and he would just sprint off the field just laughing. I was in shock.”
Jones said Farley did things to Lompoc players on the ground and told his players not to get caught up in it. Farley will be automatically suspended from Arroyo Grande’s next game.
“John is an excitable player,” Hartman said. “And when you play with that much emotion, you have to be able to control yourself. We will work on that. Just like in life, you live with the choices we make, and he will live with the choices he made tonight.”
Arroyo Grande will look to get back on track next week at home against Bishop Diego, while Lompoc will host Nipomo.