With one week left before the kickoff of the 2018 football season, Cabrillo and Santa Maria were two teams that decided to get an extra game in – in the form of a scrimmage.
Both teams worked in their offensive, defensive and special teams units while wearing their practice uniforms on the Dave Boyd Field turf at Ralph Balvidiez Stadium on Friday evening in Santa Maria.
Cabrillo started on offense first – and immediately showed the tenacity and strength they’ve been honing in on during weight room sessions under head coach AJ Pateras.
The second-year head coach went straight to running back Tito Miza to set the tone in the scrimmage. And the returning senior – who shot up to 165 pounds according to Max Preps after weighing in at 135 one year ago – responded by moving the chains and carrying multiple Saints on his back through the ground game.
“I thought Tito ran the ball really, really hard,” Pateras said. “He’s a completely different runner. He’s assumed the leadership role.”
Pateras adds that Miza has brought a different attitude with him the moment he walks into the weight room at CHS.
“A year ago, we talked about being blue-collar, bringing your lunch pail and bringing your hard hat – and Tito is bringing all of that into the weight room,” Pateras said. “He’s bought into the mindset of ‘You’re going to work for what you get.’ And it’s contagious.”
Miza not only carried the ball for CHS, but wide receiver Mason Townes gave the Conquistadores an outside threat, by taking the handoff on jet sweep plays and dashing up the field for large gains.
Santa Maria’s pass defense, though, made up for the Saints’ woes against the running game as Rafael Hernandez and Leonel Gonzalez snatched interceptions against CHS quarterback Jackson Anderson. Gonzalez’s pick came toward the end of the scrimmage when the two teams were given a 10 minute period to score.
Offensively, the Saints struggled early with establishing their zone blocking that sets up the run. Cabrillo had between three to seven white jerseys swarming to the football to halt the run – something that CHS head coach Pateras approved of.
“I thought there were some really good things,” he said. “Early on, we were very physical and were swarming to the ball.” Pateras concluded that Cade Mcnamee and Abraham Perez were two surprises on the evening for the defense, with Perez manning the nose guard spot.
But, the Saints started to move the ball against CHS toward the end of the evening – as Saints head coach Dan Ellington took advantage of some tired Conquistadores who had to play both ways and on special teams.
“I think as we got tired and guys were playing on both sides of the ball and on special teams, that’s when guys started to put their head down,” Pateras said.
On the Saints’ side, Ellington focused more on his team playing fundamentally sound football before their game against traditional Santa Maria Valley rival Righetti.
“We lined up how we were supposed to line up. But we kept it very vanilla,” Ellington said.
However, he recognized how this Cabrillo team looked nothing like the one Ellington and the Saints beat 46-24 last year at the same venue.
“I thought Cabrillo gave us a good look,” Ellington said. “They were much more physical than they were last year. The kids, you can tell, were more confident. If it were a real game, it would’ve been a close game and a real battle.”
Adrian Arredondo and Nathan Hernandez were two Saints who crossed the goal line – the former catching a dart from starting quarterback Sebastian Saiz while Arredondo was sandwiched between two defenders. He finished the play by bullying his way into the end zone.
Cabrillo held out All-Los Padres League linebacker Patrick Durham from the scrimmage due to a hip flexor strain. Pateras says the outside linebacker should be good to go for the Bishop Diego contest next Friday at La Playa Stadium.
The Saints will head to RHS to take on the Warriors next Friday to kickoff the new season.