Defense shines in season opener

The defense headlined the debut of Saddleback’s 2007 season as it shut out Mt. San Jacinto in the team’s home opener.With a final score of 51-0, the defense held its opponent to 115 yards through the air and 25 yards on the ground.

“[Our defense] held tough and I’m real proud of them,” said defensive coordinator Steve Crapo. “They executed all the way across.”

Freshman quarterback Brian Shock received the start and found wide receiver Maurice Clark in the endzone for a 8-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring.

The Gauchos added two more scores in the first quarter on the ground by running backs Andrew Nakihea and Josh Farrell.Even though Shock got the start for Saddleback’s over returner Sebastian Trujilo, both quarterbacks got a rumber of snaps.”I’ve been waiting to play because I grey shirted last season,” Shock said. “I love our offense and I’m very excited for the season.”

Both quarterbacks displayed their arms as they each passed over 100 yards with two touchdowns.

Shock displayed his running ability in the third quarter with a 38-yard run down the sideline for a touchdown.

He finished the game with 45 yards on the ground and 121 in the air with one touchdown and one interception.

“I was real proud of this team. Everyone played hard,” said Gauchos head coach Mark McElroy. “We don’t really know how good we are just yet but this was a first step to a championship.”

To complement the Saddleback air attack, the rushing game was on as well, with three backs including the returning Nakihea, Cheyne Verhagen, who returned from the 2004 team, and freshman running back Josh Farrell.

Farrell led the team with nine carries on 52 yards rushing and a touchdown, but each of the three backs found the endzone.”It fellt good to get out there and play,” Verhagen said. “Although this team wasn’t all that good, we don’t take any team lightly.”

With one more score on a fumble recovery by wide receiver Jay Wisner in the endzone, the second and third string came in to get some playing time.

As the fourth quarter was winding down, the Eagles threatened to spoil the shutout, but were unable to after the Gaucho defense stopped them on the 1-yard line on three consecutive downs to regain possession.

“I’m real proud of our effort and intensity,” Crapo said. “Everyone gained experience tonight.”

Saddleback will hit the road Saturday, Sept. 8 as it makes its way up to Moorpark College to face the Raiders in the two teams’ first meeting ever. The Raiders were 8-2 last season and champions of their division. Kickoff is at 5 p.m.

“We are used to playing good caliber teams,” McElroy said. “Moorpark will be a good challenge for us.”

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