By GERARDO RECINOS
It’s finally happening, Alhambra is starting to gel and settle in as a team. And as a team they settled in all over George De Klotz Stadium in Walnut Creek, destroying the Las Lomas Knights.
Alhambra’s 42-9 win on Sept. 16, saw them put up more points than in their first three games combined, get back to .500, and put on their best defensive showing of the season.
“The mantra we’ve really had with this team, is we have to keep improving,” said Coach Alan Hern. “That’s where they’re growing and learning to play football and starting to get the most out our scheme.”
Hern highlighted the play of the defense after the game, and in particular singled out the play of the defensive line and secondary. It was no secret to anyone watching the first three games this season that a brand new secondary was going to need some time to get experience. They had four takeaways, with senior Thomas McDonald intercepting two passes, and junior Trent Greene and sophomore Wyatt Hammer each picking off a pass as well. Three of those interceptions came in the second half.
“We’re athletic in the back end, and they’re starting to understand what Coach [Jason] Harrison wants them to do,” Hern said of the improvement in play by the defensive backs.
But by that time the suddenly precise and collected offense had done it’s job.
Austin Edwards rumbled into the end zone from 12 yards out to score on the Bulldogs second possession. Edwards, who plays in the secondary on defense, made a play on the next Las Lomas possession which set up a 49-yard toss from Daymyn Blalock to the guy who is fast becoming his favorite receiver. Blalock hit Greene perfectly in stride from 49 yards out with a throw he couldn’t have made in week one.
“[Daymyn Blalock] is mirroring the team in that they’re in the same boat.
He’s inexperienced as a quarterback and every week he’s taking steps forward. He is starting to understand the progressions, how to throw the ball, the kind of trajectory to throw the ball, where guys are going to be,” Hern said.
“He’s improving every time he goes out there and he’s taking a lot of responsibility on himself,” the coach said.
There were still somethings that needed to be polished, but this was Blalock’s best start of the season, which of course coincided with the best Bulldog performance overall this season.
The Bulldogs scored on their final drive before the half, with Daniel Boyd scoring on a one-yard dive. McDonald’s 58-yard interception return set up the short field for the score.
Then they started the second half with an 80-yard drive that took just over three minutes. Jackson Norried capped off the drive with a 17-yard run off a sweep, following a big block by sophomore offensive lineman JT Griffin, who cleared the path to the end zone.
The Knights had little connectivity on their offensive side of the ball, but were gifted points by a bad snap by Alhambra in the shadow of their own end zone. The ball floated far away from the outstretched arms of punter Nicki Rucki out of the back of the end zone.
Boyd and Greene each scored once more before the game would end, with Hammer taking snaps under center after Blalock had been withdrawn from the game to give him a well-deserved rest.
The Bulldogs will take on their toughest task of the season so far when they travel to Miramonte on Friday, Sept. 23. The former Diablo Foothill Athletic League rivals are undefeated so far this season, and will have returning first team all-DFAL quarterback Tim Tague leading the Matadors in action once more in Orinda.
“We know Miramonte will be probably our toughest test in non-league, and it’s going to be a good challenge for our guys to see where they’re at, and where they need to be to play a playoff-caliber opponent,” Hern said of the Friday night battle coming up.