By GERARDO RECINOS
For nine weeks, the Oct. 30 bye week seemed like a cruel joke, the league’s sick punch line to a long, brutal season.
But now that it’s here, and the Bulldogs have reached it in such commanding fashion with a 35-7 win over Dougherty Valley on the road, its timing couldn’t be any better.
“We’ve got a renewed spirit on the team,” said Coach Alan Hern. “[With] last week, we can kind of see what we’re capable of doing. I have a good feeling about where we’re at right now. We had a very big win last week, and it’s emotional and you have to pick that back up again, and finish it on a high, and get into the bye week on a good note.”
Hern felt the team could’ve run the score up even more than they did. A couple of trips to the red zone where the Bulldogs came away without points was less then desirable, but on a night when they did so much good, the coach was able to deal with those shortcomings with a light-heartedness of a guy with a team ready for the home stretch.
After allowing Dougherty Valley to score first on a 2-yard run from Teni Adeoti, the Bulldog defense shut it down completely. On a night when they had four takeaways (three interceptions and one forced fumble) it was the once struggling secondary that stepped up to play.
Offensively, the Bulldogs weren’t perfect, but executed when they needed to. A 39-yard run from senior quarterback Zach Elliott set up a 20-yard touchdown to fellow senior Josh Ramirez (at right), who hauled in two scores on the night. Elliott read the defensive perfectly and hit Ramirez on a slant pattern on the first touchdown pass, and floated a ball to his receiver who had single coverage for the second.
Following the two touchdowns, Alhambra hit a bit of a roadblock before the half. Twice they failed to score on trips into the red zone, despite having such great field position provided for them by the defense.
In one instance, senior linebacker Josh Abraham got loose on a blitz and jarred the ball loose from Wildcat quarterback Dylan Kumar. Kumar wouldn’t return to the game, which, coupled with the absence of University of Hawaii commit Trey Hoskins, stagnated any offensive fire power the Wildcats had.
Kumar’s replacement, Jarrod Hoyer, was picked off three times, with junior Spencer Schulhauser and seniors Jeremy Therrsen and Elliott each intercepting the Dougherty back up.
While Therssen’s interception came seconds before Wildcat junior Michael Smith picked off Elliott’s first throw of the drive, Elliott’s pick set up an Alhambra score.
After the senior quarterback/safety hybrid got revenge for his picked off pass, he handed off to sophomore Daniel Boyd for his second touchdown of the night. Boyd, who has been seeing more time as of late, had a solid showing in the second half, totaling 49 yards on seven touches.
Not to be outdone by his understudy, senior Jonathan McCart punched his first touchdown of the night in from two yards. His touchdown came directly following Schulhauser’s interception.
Overall on the night the Bulldogs totaled 327 yards of total offense, but it was clear they left some points out on the field.
“We would’ve wanted to score more than we did,” Hern said. “I think we kept the pressure on them all game long on offense and defense.”
Going into the big bye week, the Bulldogs will use the next 13 days without a game to play as time to recover, but also as time to fine tune, rather than revamp. With the win, the Bulldogs improved to 5-4, (2-3 DFAL) and have unofficially qualified for a North Coast Section berth.
“At this point, we have everything in that we need to have in on offense and defense. It’s nice because now we just have to work on getting better, and we don’t have to add any volume,” Hern said. “It’s mostly just a re-energize week.”