Fielding a young and inexperienced team doesn’t come without growing pains.
The Nipomo High football team showed in its 34-0 loss at home Friday night against Morro Bay that it still has some work to do before everything starts to click.
Development and going forward consists of playing penalty-free football, better timing in the passing game and continued improvement on the offensive line, which are all things the Titans need to work on.
“We can’t have the penalty mistakes,” Nipomo coach Russ Edwards said. “With a young team like this and not being big up front, we can’t have the penalty mistakes. Our group just needs to mature and decide that it’s important to them to be correct in their assignment on every play to give us a chance.”
Nipomo’s eight penalties, including three personal foul calls, helped prolong some Morro Bay drives and stalled a few for Nipomo. Aside from mental mistakes leading to penalties, the other areas of growth aren’t as negative.
Edwards allowed first-year starting junior quarterback Josh Correia to occasionally show off his arm. Correia was only 3 of 11 passing for 43 yards but he demonstrated, when given time to throw, that he can get the ball down field and make good reads.
His only holdup came with misjudging where his receiver would be down field. On his occasional deep throws, the timing between quarterback and receiver was a little off, resulting in some overthrows to open receivers.
“Josh looked the best that he has throwing the football,” Edwards said. “That was a tribute to the bye week. He had a really good bye week and we threw the ball a ton during it.”
The young quarterback’s maturation is a process, especially since most of the players he lines up with are also juniors. The Titans (1-3, 0-1 Los Padres League) lost 33 seniors to graduation from last year’s team and at times their youth has showed.
Edwards wants to get the vertical passing game going, but he has been waiting for his five new starters on the offensive line to improve. Friday night they were able to give Correia some time to throw, but Morro Bay (3-1, 1-1 LPL) was also able to break through for two sacks.
Choosing to force Correia to beat them, the Pirates loaded up the box and successfully stopped Nipomo’s running game.
“Our defense came to play,” Morro Bay coach John Andree said. “We wanted to stop the run and have them throw the ball. Our defense came out and played some good football tonight.”
Running back Eric Penningroth led the Titans ground game most of the night. He had 22 of the team’s 26 carries but managed just 55 yards.
With neither the passing nor running game proving effective, the Titans had just six first downs. Nipomo had four of its nine drives end with punts after going three-and-out.
The Titans have another big challenge ahead of them this week when they travel to play the undefeated Pioneer Valley Panthers (4-0, 1-0 LPL).
“We have to look at the positive things that happened during the game and try to build on that stuff because we are young,” Edwards said. “If we berate them too much then those young guys aren’t going to continue to grow and build. We don’t want that negative vibe. (We) want our young guys to continue to get better and better.”