The season opening Morro Bay High-Carpinteria matchup last season was the Sam Crizer showcase.
After the Morro Bay quarterback had 366 yards of total offense in a 36-20 win then, this season it was Carpinteria’s Alex Rodriguez who stole the show.
The Pirates defense couldn’t stop Carpinteria’s 5-foot-5, 132-pound tailback as he rushed for 122 yards and had 83 yards in pass receptions in a lopsided 22-8 season-opening loss in Morro Bay.
“I think we thought we were a little better than we really were. We just gotta go back and keep working hard,” Morro Bay coach John Andree said. “It’s only the first game.”
That first game, however, brought up many questions marks about Morro Bay’s offense.
The Pirates had only 131 yards of total offense.
Quarterback Bryce Owens led the Pirates through the air, going 6 for 12 with 51 yards and an interception, while senior Dolin Mininni led the Pirates on the ground, rushing for just 42 yards. Through one half, they posted just one first down and 23 total yards of offense.
“It’s a different offense (than last year),” Andree said. “It’s an offense that gets all the backs involved, a lot of misdirection and a lot of attention to detail. We just didn’t have that today. We started two sophomores in the backfield and two guys that didn’t play varsity last year. It showed today.”
Carpinteria’s offense, however, was firing on all cylinders.
Rodriguez scored two touchdowns in the first half — one from 15 yards on the ground and one from 22 yards through the air — to put his team up 14-0.
Rodriguez then scored off a 61-yard pass from quarterback Ian Craddock to give Carpinteria a 22-0 lead.
“They were a little bit more physical up front than we had anticipated,” Andree said. “We were playing a lot of guys both ways and I think they got a little tired, but that is no excuse. Carpinteria played a great game.”
The Pirates answered with a score and a two-point conversion in the third, when Mininni ran in from 17 yards out and then punched in the conversion on the ground.
But that was all the Pirates offense would muster, as they were outgained 289-80 on the ground and 61-51 through the air.
The offensive struggles may be a bit expected as the Pirates come into this season without their biggest offensive weapon from a season ago in Crizer.
Last season, Crizer rushed for 1,951 yards, more than any other quarterback in the state at the 11-man level, and led the Pirates to a 6-6 (4-2 Los Padres League) record and a postseason run that ended with a 33-12 loss to South Torrance in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Northwest Division playoffs.
“Anytime you try to replace a guy like Crizer, it’s difficult,” Andree said. “You just do the best that you can. Those guys come through every so often and you just have to adapt to your personnel. Our biggest thing with losing a guy like Sam is to try out a new offense, get more guys involved and see if things work out that way.”
Against the Warriors, the Pirates did indeed spread the ball around. Seven different players had rushing attempts and six Pirates had a catch. But even with the touches, the Morro Bay offense struggled against Carpinteria.
It’s something, though, that Andree said he can build from.
“You always learn more from a loss than a win,” Andree said. “The first four weeks of the season are non-league, so we are going to try and get better. Our big game is week five against Santa Ynez.”