The '11-'12 football Cavaliers had very little trouble with Wilmington's Pilots, finishing a long, somewhat dull game 27-7. Serra's offense sputtered like a 356 Chevy with broken plugs, but Serra's defense was consistent and smothering.
The offense was understandable. It was missing at least two sparkplugs. Runner Anterio Bateman and receiver Raymond Ford were out, injured, return uncertain. Still the offense managed some 300-horse power plays. The most amazing was the return of an intercepted Pilot pass at 10:45 of the fourth quarter. Adorre Jackson seemed to make the wrong cut every time, turning into schools of Pilot fish, and each time, incredibly, he came out the other side, spinning, stumbling, but on his feet. In the grasp at least four times, he went all the way to the end zone. Courtesy of CIF officiating, the play was called back and Serra penalized two separate illegal blocks twenty yards apart. But a web gem is a web gem, and this was the play of the night.
The defense had a perhaps even more spectacular moment, but less cinematic. At 10:32 in the second quarter, after a fifteen play drive for their own 25, Banning was third and one at the Serra one. Serra was leading at the time: 6-0. An out to the wide receiver on third was overthrown. Fourth and one. The Pilots lined up for a field goal. Then called time...came back on the field and lined up to run. One yard to go. Fifteen hundred fans, about 800 of them on the Serra side of the field, expected Banning to tie or go ahead. In the blink of the eye and a pile of black and white jerseys, the Cavalier defense stopped the Pilots dead. It made a statement.
Now for the detail minded, a quick summary of the flow of the game.
Serra started on offense at its own twenty after a touchback on the opening kickoff. The Cavs mounted a ten-play drive featuring the strong running style of Senior Ronnie Vaughn. Jalen Green was two for three passing, including the scoring pass of a thirteen yard lob to Marques Rodgers. A high snap ruined the point after try, and Serra lined up to kick to Banning with 8:00 minutes left in the first quarter.
The Pilots were stopped after six plays, and punted. Serra kept the ball for four. Banning got the ball with 5:24 remaining and began the drive that ended at the Serra one.
Serra's offense moved the ball to the twenty five, but stalled on a couple of misthrown passes.
Banning went three and out courtesy of the stingy Cavalier defensive line. With 5:50 remaining in the second quarter, Serra got the ball back. Then started a two-steps-forward, penalty, one-step-back, six-play drive that ended on a forty yard pass to Ricardo Rijo, ten yards behind the Banning secondary, who crossed the goal line at 2:32. After Banning jumped off sides, Serra called time and decided to go for two. Banning stood its ground, and Serra went up by the uncomfortable score of 12-0.
The Pilots went three and out. With 1:30 remaining, Ryan Barbarin jogged in with the offense instead of Jalen Greene. Even the tweeters in front of the snack bar know that means pass. Barbarin had to swallow the ball on the first play, and had a good pass broken up when his receiver was nearly broken up the moment the ball arrived. Then with everyone in the stadium aware what the play was going to be, he threw a beautiful pass to Ricardo Rijo breaking away from the Pilot safety. The try for two was successful, and the Cavs ended the half up 20-0.
Banning came out after halftime looking like the same team. Then on third and long, the Pilots finally gave their fans a little dose of adrenalin. QB Ramirez tossed the ball to running back Sonny Fao in what looked like a play Banning had run almost every series, but the toss was lateral, and Fao threw to Julian Sykes, all alone about twenty five yards up field. With that ten yard head start, Styles just managed to get to ball into the end zone before a swarm of embarrassed Serra D-backs converged on him. Banning kicked the extra point, and it was 20-7.
Serra was suffering from those dirty spark plugs on the next series, when Banning helped out with a personal foul. Serra took advantage. A deep out that looked like a probable interception cleared the Banning safety by a whisker and Rijo did the rest taking the ball in for his third touchdown of the night. The extra point was routine, finally. Serra was up 27-0.
It was a question of waiting for the inevitable. The Pilots never quit, and managed a long, penalty-assisted drive over the four minutes, getting as deep as the Serra seven. But Serra tipped Ramirez' last second pass at the line, intercepted the tip, and took a knee to end the game.
Serra plays away again next Friday. Narbonne is one and two, but powerful.