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WEEK TWO FOOTBALL – John Glenn, minus head coach and top starters, fades in the second half against Cabrillo

September 6, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

LONG BEACH-On paper, it looked as if John Glenn High would pick up its second straight victory, this time over Long Beach Cabrillo High. The two were once Suburban League rivals from 1999-2002 when the Jaguars were beginning their football program as Cabrillo was founded in 1995 and needed a league to fit in.

Glenn won three of those four meetings, plus a 2019 encounter and last season, a 22-6 decision. But last Friday, minus head coach David Cruz, who was under Covid protocols, and star sophomore running back Tuiono Tuifua, who left the game early in the second quarter due to an ankle injury, the Eagles couldn’t generate much offense in a 32-13 loss.

Even though Tuifua was ready to go later in the game, according to assistant defensive coordinator Cedrick Allen, the coaching staff stayed on the cautious side and kept him on the sideline. His loss, along with Cruz and senior running back Xander Martinez, made a huge impact in the contest.

“He’s our head coach, he’s our offensive coordinator, he’s our leader,” said Allen. “We as a staff tried to step up and fill those shoes, but Cruz is a legend here. He’s the mastermind behind the offense. He’s the mastermind behind our big rushing game last week. Unfortunately, injuries happen, but a ship needs its captain and we came out here and did the best we could without him. We’re definitely looking forward to having him back.”

“Tui went down early, but besides that, we had our starting fullback go down,” he later said. “Our starting guard [senior Joseph Chavez], has been dealing with some injuries as well [and] he went down. [Starting safety Emmanuel Enriquez] went down and some of our other linemen. As much as we would like to look at it and hope those injuries don’t happen, it’s part of football. It did take the wind out of our sails for sure. But it’s football and you have to be resilient; you have to plug and play and step up and we did that for a little bit. It was a tale of two halves.”

After a fumble on the second play of the game, Cabrillo needed two plays and 59 seconds to grab a 6-0 lead as quarterback Luis Haro scampered for a 51-yard jaunt. But the Eagles (1-2) responded in a big way, using the clock for just over six minutes, going 77 yards on 12 plays which ended when senior quarterback Emmanuel Enriquez tossed an eight-yard score to Tuifua.

However, with four seconds remaining in the stanza, Cabrillo took the lead for good when Haro ended a 10-play, 61-yard drive with a one-yard sneak. The lead would increase to 20-7 five minutes into the second quarter when Haro’s 36-yard gain led to Bobo Jackson rushing twice for gains of 15 and one yard.

The Eagles would stay in the game before halftime and with 1:43 remaining, senior running back Manuel Sigala went in from eight yards to make it a 20-13 contest. While Glenn held the ball for nearly nine minutes more than the Jags in the first half, the hosts racked up 226 yards in offense, mostly because of the running from Haro, who was up to 147 yards on eight carries. He would finish the game with 219 yards on 13 carries while passing for another 88 yards on eight completions.

“This week leading up to this game, we knew they were going to be an RPO team,” said Allen. “They’re going to run out, dive out; they’re going to carry out that pitch. We talked to our ends early on this week…quarterback, quarterback, quarterback. When you see it on a Friday night, it’s a little more deceptive to a team that’s been running it for two years.”

Glenn punted on its only two drives in the third quarter, but the defense kept the offense in the game because Cabrillo ran 16 plays in the stanza, gained 96 yards, punted once, was held on downs and had another drive reach the end of the quarter. It wasn’t until there was 8:16 left in the game when the Jackson scored from seven yards out, making it 26-13.

Any chances the Eagles had to put together a late game rally were dashed when Enriquez was picked off at the Glenn 22-yard line with 3:22 left to play. The turnover led to Antonio Elam scoring from three yards out with 49 seconds remaining.

“We had a little halftime pep talk and the energy was up,” said Allen. “But again, it was a tale of two halves. We had offense in the first half; we were able to put up 13, and we couldn’t stop them. Then in the second half, our defense came out to play and our offense couldn’t really quite get it going.”

Tuifua led the Eagles with 51 yards on 11 carries while Sigala added 39 yards on half a dozen touches. Enriquez completed 13 of 25 passes for 74 yards but was picked off twice while the offense was sloppy at times with bad snaps, dropped passes and penalties. On defense, senior cornerback Thomas Lee, sophomore linebacker Brandon Rivera and sophomore safety Jacob Ramirez all had three and a half tackles while Martinez and senior tackle Mikel Udengwu each added two and a half tackles.

“We definitely need to work on the metal mistakes,” said Allen. “Bad snaps, flags, tempers at times…building that camaraderie as a team throughout this year is one thing we’ve been focusing on as the season has progressed. This game was important to us, but at the end of the day, in my opinion, we are building towards league. We would like to go 3-0 in league and if we can take each win, or loss, as a learning experience and grow from that, I think that’s going to set us up for the future.”

It won’t get easier for the Eagles as they host another former Suburban League foe in Bellflower High. The Buccaneers are 3-0 and have outscored their opponents 104-20 behind their double wing offense. Trey Pinkney leads the team with 488 yards on 40 carries and has scored five times while William Taylor, just a freshman, has 238 yards on 43 carries and four touchdowns. As a team, Bellflower has rushed for 1,032 yards while quarterback Adonis Thomas has attempted two passes but has gained 112 yards on a dozen carries while scoring four times.

“For us, it’s taking it one week at a time,” said Allen. “It’s going into that week understanding that we’re 1-0 that week and I think they pose a tough test for us. But I think it’s something that will prepare us for league and hopefully playoffs this week.”