By GERARDO RECINOS
Anyone who has ever watched a junior varsity football game would probably use the same words to characterize them: high-scoring, undisciplined, and chaotic.
Friday’s bizarre 6-6 tie between the College Park Falcons and Alhambra Bulldogs was anything but. The two teams played rigid defense, in a game that was a battle of field position.
Coach Kent Largent’s boys bore the brunt of College Park’s running game, led by Luis Navarro, who repeatedly put his head behind left tackle and slowly but surely moved the ball down the field.
Navarro did the hard work moving the ball across the field to start the drive that lasted more than five minutes and covered 65 yards. The Falcons eventually hit the home run ball on a 41-yard dash from running back Jason Bautista.
During their 65-yard drive, the Falcons didn’t attempt a single pass play.
On offense, the reeling Bulldogs got solid performances from players who aren’t at the top of the depth chart.
Starting quarterback, sophomore Zach Schuler, is still recovering from an ankle injury in the team’s scrimmage against Will C. Wood-Vacaville. His back-up, sophomore Trent Greene is also recovering from an injury. Greene is also one of the team’s running backs and receiver.Austin Edwards filled in admirably as running back, while Brandon Hatcher did his job taking over as under center for the two injured quarterbacks.
Hatcher made a nice completion for 15 yards to Garrett Swartz on the Bulldogs’ first possession, but ultimately it was short of the first down marker. The Bulldogs did eventually score on their second possession.
A gain of 12 yards on third down by Edwards saved the Bulldogs from having to punt from College Park territory, and the sophomore running back topped his own effort on the very next play, scoring from 23 yards out.
Both teams missed their extra point tries.
For the remaining 25 minutes of the game there would be no scoring. Alhambra linebacker Aidan LaHonta was a tackling machine, shooting through the line to make multiple tackles for a loss, and a sack on the afternoon.
A strange double up-sportsmanlike conduct ended the first half and gave way to the most evenly matched defensive struggle we’re likely to see all season.
Each team had seven possessions in the second half, but it was the Falcons who came closest to breaking the deadlock in the third quarter.
Navarro converted for the Falcons on fourth down by gaining six yards before setting up gains of five and 14 yards to put the Falcons in the red zone.
LaHonta came up big with a sack on second down, and then College Park quarterback Ryan McClure’s attempt to hit Bautista on the screen pass was broken up by a nice open-field tackle by defensive back Tristan Ferrer.
The Bulldogs’ defensive stand didn’t come with much offensive fight against the Falcons, but at the very least they escaped without losing, and gave themselves another week to recover from injury before hopefully getting back some of their starters.
Alhambra will visit Rancho Cotate-Rohnert Park on Friday night, while the Falcons take on Las Lomas-Walnut Creek on the road the same night.