Heading into the annual Battle for the Shield, St. Joseph was lauded in the area for having a deep receiving core and an experienced strong-armed quarterback.
Sure enough, the Knights came after the Righetti Warriors with their deep options of Mason Biely, Nate Guzman, Justin Wong and Joe Miller. With Dino Maldonado’s right arm providing the passes, St. Joseph rolled to a 40-14 rout on Friday at Jay Will Field.
Biely, who earned a scholarship offer from Dordt College of the NAIA, got the air attack rolling with his 29-yard catch during the opening drive. Guzman then capped the drive with his 15-yard score while drawing one-on-one coverage in the left corner of the end zone for the first touchdown.
Miller’s first big play came on a 73-yard strike, as he cut inside and hit a second gear on his way to the long touchdown score, making it 12-0 in the first quarter. Then, Miller got behind two Warrior defenders in the back of the left corner of the end zone toward the end of the second quarter, stretching the lead to 26-6 before halftime.
Maldonado, the former RHS football player, showed his accuracy and toughness against his ex-teammates – as Maldonado was constantly driven to the ground and, during the second quarter, took what appeared to be a rough blow to his midsection that had him shaken up on the sprint turf.
Maldonado went 22 of 28 for 318 yards and four touchdowns passes, including a third quarter screen toss to running back Jayden Vargas who finished his run by hurdling into the end zone, making it 32-6.
“It feels really good. We came out hot and did a good job (against RHS),” Maldonado said.
The senior, who also scored a 3-yard rushing touchdown, said RHS mostly ran two coverages on defense the whole night.
“They ran cover two and cover four – the corners were bailing sometimes and we took what they gave us. It opened up in the end,” Maldonado said.
Head coach Jim Chvala earned his first victory as Knights head coach in the annual rivalry contest.
“I’m happy for the kids. They worked really hard. These kids put in effort and it was nothing but effort from them,” Chvala said.
He also raved about the performance of Maldonado, saying “It’s great to have a young man like that. He’s a good leader. But don’t take nothing away from the coaches who work with him.”
Chavala coached some talented and deep teams during his time at Bakersfield High, but he’s been impressed with the development of his deep receiving core.
“I would have to say it’s one of the better ones I’ve ever been around. My hats are off to those guys,” Chvala said.
Miller finished with four catches, 102 yards and two touchdowns. Vargas scored on a rushing and receiving touchdown. Defensively, Joe Doud intercepted two passes including one inside RHS’s 10-yard line.
For RHS head coach Ed Herrmann, he was pleased with how physical his Warriors played, but penalties and mental errors, he cited, helped doom his team.
“I was proud of their effort. We moved the ball well but we shot ourselves in the foot sometimes with penalties and things,” Herrmann said, whose team was penalized for holding calls and had two long passes – including a 44-yard Jalen Davis touchdown reception – called back for a holding call. “It (the penalties) put us in some long situations – and it was hard for us. We didn’t get back on track until late in the game.”
Despite the loss, Herrmann is refusing to go back to the drawing board and make major adjustments.
“We’re going to fine tune some things, but this was just a bump in the road,” Herrmann said.