Bonita Drops Opener, 21-14, to Westview, But Season-Long Storylines Develop

September 5, 2009
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Bonita kept heads up after tough loss.

Bonita kept heads up after tough loss.

Bonita dropped its home opener to Westview San Diego, 21-14, but the packed house that came to watch the game under toasty, sultry skiles saw several early storylines develop that will no doubt loom large as the season continues.

Bonita has a passing game. Junior first-time starter Garrett Pendleton threw for 185 yards, including a first-quarter 23-yard touchdown to Zach Braumgard and a 63-sideline scoring strike to Casey Horine to give the Bearcats a 14-13 lead at half time. Also, Bonita has junior Greg Spathias ready to line up behind center. On the night, both Horine and Evan Highly caught three passes while Codey Sykes and Kyle Moderow hauled in a pair of passes each.

The passing game needs protection. Pendleton was sacked seven times in the contest for a negative net yardage loss of 59 yards. Bonita is breaking in a new offensive line that lost four of five starters to graduation. “We have some growing to do,” Podley said immediately after the game, “but I thought our kids played with heart, character and fought under very adverse circumstances, given we really had only 2 practices to prepare.”

Bonita has a running game. Podley promised that Bonita would work to showcase the talents of tailback Deron Holmes, indicating he would aim to get the senior running back 15 to 20 carries a game. Podley and Holmes delivered. Holmes rushed for 73 yards on 16 carries and ran the ball tough inside on short-yardage situations. Kenneth Calvin picked up eight yards on two carries.

Somewhere at the bottom of the the pile is Kyle Moderow, who almost caused another Wolverine turnover before officials awarded that Westview had regained the football after Evan Highley's deep booming punt.

Somewhere at the bottom of the the pile is Kyle Moderow, who almost caused another Wolverine turnover before officials ruled Westview had regained the fumbling football after Evan Highley's deep, booming punt.

Bonita has an opportunistic defense.

Outweighed by 70 pounds per man on the line, according to Podley, the Bearcat defense forced six Wolverine turnovers, including interceptions by cornerback cornerback Matt Gelalich and safety Evan Highley. Outside lineback Alex Rocha also got rocked recovering one of four fumbles by Bonita, but managed to hold on the ball and reward the Bearcats with another scoring opportunity.

During the third quarter, both Westview and Bonita failed to score, but the Bearcat defense might have taken the worst of it. “We left our defense out on the field far too long,” Podley said. “When you’re undersized, you can’t do that. Our offense has to do a better job of keeping our defense off the field. We have to play with fresh people. We can’t allow ourselves to get worn down.”

Bonita has a kicking game. Evan Highley converted both of his extra point opportunities, and on his first kick of the season pinned the Wolverines deep in their own territory before the play was called back on a Bonita penalty. Highley’s seven punts averaged more than 34 yards a boot on the evening.

Bonita is penalty prone. The Bearcats were tagged with more than 50 yards in penalties in the first half alone. The object of the game is forward progress not retreat. “The penalties really killed us and it showed a lack of maturity from all our seniors. More charitably, Podley added, “The preseason is the time to get that stuff out of your system, and I think we took a big dose out of it tonight.”

Bonita is young. No where did the inexperience factor show itself more than in a fourth quarter drive that Bonita had mustered. After facing a first and 31-yard situation with about three minutes to go, Pendleton advanced the ball 26 yards on a couple of completions bringing up fourth and five. Then on the pivotal play, the snap skipped on the turf from the center to Pendleton who fell on it, killing Bonita’s last best chance to keep the drive alive and to tie or win the game.

Half-time entertainment

Half-time entertainment

Bonita is not afraid to gamble. In perhaps the game’s most critical play, with Bonita leading 14-7, the Bearcats were driving again just before the half. Throwing his only interception, Pendleton was picked and the Wolverine defender raced down the sideline headed for six points were it not for a touchdown-saving tackle by Tyler Cortez. However, the Wolverines on a long pass and a one-yard quarterback keeper scored right before the half to make the score 14-13. Bonita went for the knockout, but missed.

Time will tell. Bonita led the game for all but the last 8:54. “Give us a full week of practice, and it’s a different story,” Podley told his players who huddled after the game. We have the makings of a good team here. Now we have to make it happen with a full week of practice.”

Next up: At Claremont, Sept. 11, 7 p.m.

More half-time entertainment

More half-time entertainment

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