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WEEK TWO FOOTBALL: John Glenn’s defense steals the show against Long Beach Cabrillo


John Glenn High senior quarterback Nataniel Jacobo picks up some hard yardage last Friday night against Long Beach Cabrillo High. Jacobo gained 27 yards on six carries to help the Eagles to a 22-6 victory that left the team 2-0 on the young season. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, contributing photographer.


September 7, 2021

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

John Glenn High played one game this past March and it wasn’t a pretty one as the Eagles fell to Cerritos High 56-0. What a difference six months can make as two games into the 2021 season, head coach David Cruz never expected to see his team bolt out to a 2-0 record with wins coming against Firebaugh High (40-8) on Aug. 27 and last Friday night’s 22-6 home conquest against Long Beach Cabrillo High.

“Especially after last year’s performance during Covid, we didn’t look very good,” Cruz said. “We didn’t look like we knew what was going on. We didn’t have any football savvy. This year, they are picking it up and we benefited from that. All those guys were young and n ow they have a little bit of experience and I think that’s what is pushing us over the top.”

It’s the first time since the 2009 season that Glenn began a season with two straight wins. That season, the Eagles won their first four games before stumbling to a 5-5 campaign. If you were looking for much offense between Glenn and Cabrillo, then you were at the wrong game. Yes, the Eagles managed to gain close to 250 yards of offense and score three touchdowns. But it was the defense that carried Glenn all night as the Jaguars had the ball for 17:04, ran 37 plays from scrimmage and were limited to 88 yards. Cabrillo also fumbled the ball on its first drive of the third quarter and had three straight drives in the fourth quarter that ended in interceptions.

After Cabrillo punted on the opening drive of the game, Glenn went 35 yards on nine plays covering 6:38 to score the game’s first touchdown, a 10-yard run from senior quarterback Nataniel Jacobo. On the drive, Glenn converted a pair of fourth downs.

The Eagles, though, didn’t make it easy as they were called for two delay infractions, a holding call, a false start call and another penalty for having 10 men on the field.

In fact, both teams were hindered all night with penalties with Cabrillo being called for 17 of them totaling 150 yards and the Eagles 13 for 82 yards.

Cabrillo had a golden opportunity to at least tie the game in the second quarter as it put together a nifty 5:44 drive. However, the Jags ran only nine plays that went for 30 yards and they were only able to move from the Glenn 22-yard line to the six-yard line because of half a dozen penalties.

“I had just talked [to the team] about the offense having struggles and lack of experience, but defense has all the experience,” Cruz said. “We have a bunch of guys that know how to play defense. We have guys who are aggressive, and I think we do well defensively, and I think we’re going to do well all season long just because we have athletes that know how to play the game.”

The Eagles took advantage of Cabrillo’s misfortunes and wrapped up the first half with a 10-play drive that ended with senior running back sensation Iona Young going in from nine yards out, then completing the two-point conversion for a 14-0 lead. Young ended the game with 112 yards on 20 touches and in two games, has scored half of Glenn’s eight offensive touchdowns.

“He’s a blessing,” Cruz said. “He was supposed to be our tailback during Covid and decided to opt out. It was a blessing having him show up. I wish I could have had him all summer. He’s another one that we have a limited playbook when he’s in. But still, I think he’s going to be able to play after high school.”

Glenn was looking to add to its lead early in the third quarter, but when senior Jimmy Torres punted, Cabrillo’s Devin Edwards took it 60 yards to the house and three minutes into the half, it was 14-6 as the extra point attempt was blocked. While the Eagles still struggled on offense, the defense picked it up even more as the Jags had five offensive plays in the third quarter and 11 in the fourth quarter, including the three interceptions.

“That’s a testament to the coaching staff,” Cruz said. “They do a great job. [Ray] Niemann with the defensive line, my cousin [Jason] Sanchez with the linebackers and the entire defense. They’re making it simple on the defensive end and just allowing those kids to play. You could really see it in that fourth quarter, and they rose to the occasion. I’m proud of those kids.”

The final score of the night came with 3:04 remaining in the game and came when Jacobo tossed a 17-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Ray Breslin. Jacobo completed only three passes in nine attempts for 58 yards while junior running back Alex Valdez added 29 yards on 11 carries. Glenn will hope to make it a three-game winning streak when it entertains Bonita Vista High out of Chula Vista tonight. The Barons have played one game thus far, an Aug. 20 38-13 loss to Morse High. Bonita Vista quarterback Nathan Roble-Cristobel was eight of 17 for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns but threw four interceptions. He also rushed for 77 yards.

“These games are preparing us for the tougher teams; for Norwalk [on Sept. 17] and, Bonita Vista for next week,” Cruz said. “And then when we face league, these harder teams are preparing us. But I’ve had so many kids come out on the first day of school. So now this is their third week of football and they’re just not prepared. They don’t know the plays. They have talent, but they’re not able to show it on the field because they don’t know what’s going on. Hopefully these next couple of weeks will help us.”