The La Jolla High School Vikings football defense was strong during its opening home game against The Bishop’s School Knights, Aug. 23, slowing plays big and small.
Slowing, but not stopping.
The Knights ultimately claimed victory 18-7, by incorporating smaller gains (some coming down to a matter of inches) and testing big plays.
On their first possession to open the game, the Knights made their way to the end zone, down by down, with a few big throws in between. When they got within eight yards of the goal, the players attempted to throw the ball into the end zone three times before ultimately running it in (but without the extra-point kick) to bring the score to 6-0.
On the Viking’s first possession, they opted for long throws and attempts at more yardage. But with that comes the risk of an interception, which the Knights took advantage of with just under six minutes left in the first quarter.
Upon the Knights re-possession, quarterback Tyler Buchner opted for long passes, but many of them were overthrown. Getting to within a few inches of a first down at least once, the Knights eventually ran out of downs and returned the ball to the Vikings possession.
Unable to do anything with that possession, the first quarter ended 6-0 Bishop’s.
In the second quarter, the Vikings executed one of the most bizarrely improvised plays. In a seemingly standard set up, the center hiked the ball to La Jolla quarterback Jackson Stratton, but the pass was overthrown, so the quarterback missed the catch, chased the ball with his fingertips, dropped it into kicking range and got the ball to a waiting Viking, who ran it for a few yards.
Nothing came of the possession, but the play left the hundreds in attendance shaking their heads.
When the Knights had possession, there were several interception attempts, only one of which was successful, by Viking junior Max Smith.
Within minutes, Smith came to the Vikings’ aid yet again, catching a pass from quarterback Stratton and running it half way down the field and into the end zone. After scoring the touchdown and the extra-point kick, the second half ended 7-6 Vikings.
In another dramatic turn for the Vikings, the third quarter opened with a Vikings possession on the 20 yard line and, no surprise, the first two carries were by Smith. But within two minutes, three penalties pushed the Vikings right back to where they started. Then a fourth foul pushed them back even further from the end zone.
On the Knights possession, taking advantage of the running skills of wide receiver Clarence Freeman (who was instrumental in the first touchdown), they were able to score another touchdown to bring the score 12-7.
To open the fourth quarter, two huge throws by QB Buchner brought the Knights to within about 11 yards of the goal, but a penalty pushed them back to the 16.
Buchner played a huge role in the victory, playing all four quarters, and even attempting to run in the ball when there was no one to which he could throw during the fourth quarter.
Again making it within a few feet of the end zone without the Knights crossing that coveted line, the Vikings took possession with most of the field in front of them. But a quick fumble near the end zone that was recovered by Bishop’s meant a Knights touchdown to bring the score to its final score of 18-7.
— Up Next: The Bishop’s School Knights take on Mater Dei Catholic, 7 p.m. Sept. 7; the La Jolla High School Vikings challenge Santa Fe Christian, 7 p.m. Sept. 6. Both games will be played at Edwards Stadium, 750 Nautilus St.