By Phil Dailey
The season opener for the La Jolla Vikings last Friday night went fairly well — for about the first 10 minutes of the football game. After Matt Davis kicked a 23-yard field goal to cut Mt. Carmel's lead to 7-3, it was a one-sided affair as the Sundevils topped the Vikings, 38-3.
Not much went right defensively for La Jolla in the first half, but second-year head coach Rey Hernandez did get a sense in the second half that some of the players were starting to figure it all out.
During the second half, La Jolla managed to hold the run-heavy Mt. Carmel triple-option attack to one touchdown. On the game, the Sundevils ran for 262 yards, led by quarterback Matt Rochelle, who had 62 rushing yards.
For the Vikings, despite returning 20 lettermen from last season's 5-7 squad, they only had two returning starters — Patrick Haggerty and Josh Kilmer — on defense. The lack of experience, for Hernandez, was key in the team's first half collapse.
"Our biggest problem was on the defensive side of the ball, not that we didn't make mistakes on offense, but that was the one side of the ball we were looking for some players to really step up," Hernandez said. "The first game, you give guys the opportunity and we got a pretty good indication of who could, and who couldn't play. So for us, I think it's just a matter of getting the players who are going to be the 11 ... and getting those guys ready to play."
The team practiced for the Sundevils, but was simply unable to execute their assignments.
"You go into the game and you think they understand the game plan and the concepts and what they're supposed to do. That became real obvious they weren't there," Hernandez said, suggesting he didn't do a good enough job of preparing his players. "They had a lot of speed but a lot of times what we were doing, we weren't recognizing the right fronts ... "
Hernandez added that with an option offense like the one Mt. Carmel was running, it's all about each defensive player keeping positional assignments.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Vikings moved the ball effectively on the team's first series, leading to the FG by Davis. The pass game was also effective led by quarterback Corey Wagner. That success was short lived as Wagner only completed 3-of-10 passes on the game, mostly because the pressure of Mt. Carmel's defensive line was too much for the Vikings to handle.
"We had a number of kids who did what they were supposed to do," Hernandez said. "It's just that we were having problems with some of the new players. It's a big step up in competition form the JV to the varsity level.
On the game, the Vikings were over matched in just about every aspect.
"That was the most disappoint thing for me, we didn't step up and play effectively, competitively," Hernandez said.
The Vikings play another home game Friday night, this time against West Hills. The Wolf Pack (0-1) lost last week to Santana 31-20. West Hills is lead by QB Gary Isaacson, who has committed to play at New Mexico State next season.
"Our goal, defensively, is to line up right, line up right and give ourselves a chance to play," Hernandez said of the matchup.
Bishop's secures first win
The Knights started the season with a five-point win on the road against El Capitan, 26-21. Up next is a cross-town battle against La Jolla County Day on Sept. 16.
Country Day blanked in Maui
The Torreys season-opener didn't go as planned and were shut out against against Kamehameha Maui last Saturday in Hawaii (see video from their trip below). Up next for the Torreys is a home game Friday night against Mountain View Christian.