Pop Warner Plays Triple-Header; Gladiators Defeat Moreno Valley, 14-6

September 6, 2009
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Micha Muhammad turns the corner against Fontana.

The Lancers' Micha Muhammad turns the corner against Fontana.

Riverside Chiefs vs. LVSD Centurions

La Verne San Dimas Pop Warner football officially kicked off the 2009 season with a triple header at Glenn Davis Stadium featuring the Centurions, Lancers and Gladiators.

In Sunday’s first game, the Centurions under head coach Steve Sizemore drew a tough assignment against the Riverside Chiefs, who featured a polished running game. Outside of a missed field at the end of the first half, the Riverside Chiefs were almost perfect, scoring four times on the ground and once on an interception to win 36-0.

The Centurions started moving the ball via the air in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late against the Chiefs. Nicholas Gasparo and Andrew Reichenfeld split the quarterbacking duties for the Centurions. Samuel Fecteau featured some nice kick-off returns. He also made a shoestring tackle to keep the Chiefs out of the end zone on one play. Fullback Ricky Padilla also ran the ball well to earn some tough punishing yards for the Centurions.

“Riverside is tough, we knew what to expect, “said Sizemore. “We’ve had trouble containing the sweep since the start of the season, so we just need to go back and work on stopping that. Offensively, I thought we did all right.

Centurions' Steve Sizemore uses timeout to call a play.

Centurions' Steve Sizemore uses timeout to call a play.

“It’s the first game of the season, and we played one of the top teams in the league.”

Unfortunately, the schedule doesn’t do the Centurions any favors next week as they line up against Upland, another highly ranked team.

Fontana Elks vs. LVSD Lancers

The Fontana Elks featured a devastating first half attack, scoring by ground, air and via field goal to take a 19-0 half time lead before cruising to a 27-0 victory over the LVSD Lancers.

The Lancers had their scoring opportunities, however. Quarterback Austin Falcetti started hooking up with receivers Sean Murphy and Louis Vargas in the second half. A couple of inches were all that stood in the way of a couple of touchdowns that could have helped bring the Lancers back. Lancer running back Micah Muhammad also reeled off a couple of long runs that gave the Lancers good field position. His quick feet and natural open-field running instincts showed he can be a game-breaker and difference maker as the season progresses.

“We made some mental mistakes, that cost us,” said Lancer head coach Steve Ojeda. “They were nervous, you could see the first-game butterflies. But I’m confident you’ll see them at the top by the end of the season.

Ojeda liked Muhammed’s efforts but reminded that the Lancers will succeed only as a team. “We’re not focusing on one player,” Ojeda said. “We have many hidden talents we didn’t get to show today, but that will come. We’re capable. We’re a diamond in the rough, plus the smoke killed us this week. We had to practice on a volleyball court this week.

Next up Rancho Cucamonga. “That’s a big rivalry,” Ojeda said.

Gladiator coaching staff shouts encouragement.

Gladiator coaching staff shouts encouragement.

Moreno Valley Titans vs. LVSD Gladiators

The Gladiators showed they’re a big-play team in their 14-6 victory over the Moreno Valley Titans in the third and final game of the afternoon. Chandler Auguste ran back the opening kick-off 65 yards to help give the Gladiators an early 7-0 lead. Also in the first half, Elijah Jackson ripped off a 60-yard end-around touchdown run for the Gladiators. The Gladiators would have had another score, but a 40-yard gallop into the end zone by Auguste was called back on a clip.

“A win is a win,” said coach Craig Young, noting that his young team has to improve its in-game substitutions in future games. A couple of times in the contest, the Gladiators didn’t line up enough players. “Luckily, we don’t have a game next week, so we can work on that.

“Today, they just saw a little bit of how good we are. Because we were a little disorganized, they didn’t see how great we are. When we play two weeks from now, we’re going to put it altogether.”

There were many standout performances by the Gladiators. Bryce Young’s quarterback keepers helped the Gladiators control the ball and the game tempo on offense. Defensively, Jalen Palacios and Lucas McGill played superbly. “McGill actually made the game-saving tackle,” Coach Young said.

Lancer Receiver Sean Murphy sees double coverage as he fights for ball.

Lancer Receiver Sean Murphy sees double coverage as he fights for ball.

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