Just two games into the high school football season and the Santa Clara Bruins have already equaled their win total from last season. While Santa Clara was moved from the De Anza league to the El Camino league, the Bruins nonetheless look like a squad who would beat last year’s team. This internal improvement certainly isn’t surprising given that Santa Clara Head Coach Hank Roberts is all about being better than the day before. The coach’s automatic email signoff reads: “You versus the person you were yesterday.”
After beating Prospect 62-7 last week in the season opener, the Bruins faced a much tougher Overfelt team on Friday and yet still managed to come away with another impressive victory. The Bruins offense put on a stellar show both on the ground and through the air, en route to a 57-28 victory. Star wide receiver Nick Garcia caught five touchdown passes from quarterback Christopher Brown and running back Erik Ketton exploded for 276 yards rushing. That said, it was actually the Bruins defense that made the biggest difference.
Certainly giving up 28 points doesn’t sound like a great defensive performance on paper, but the Bruins held a talented team to just 14 points through the first three-and-a-half quarters. Santa Clara’s defense changed the early momentum by adequately adjusting against an alternative attack from Overfelt. The Royals went into a tightly bunched formation on their second possession and methodically drove down the field for their first touchdown.
However, on their very next drive, the Bruins were ready for it. Santa Clara was much more disciplined in their gaps and nearly forced a turnover on downs at the start of the drive. The Royals would eventually pick up a first down on a fourth-down running play, but the Bruins defense continued to dig in. Just a few plays later senior linebacker Michael Perez-Kady put an end to the drive by coming up with a fumble recovery right around midfield.
“Since we have the replay system on the sideline we were able to see exactly what they were doing,” noted Perez-Kady. “So we made a couple of adjustments so that the middle wasn’t so wide open. Once we were able to fix that and make them go more towards our type of game, which is a little bit more speed—not as much power—we were able to stop them.”
“Here was our adjustment: we told our guys to man up inside, be tough at the point on defense,” noted coach Roberts. “Then it was just a matter of our offense not shooting ourselves in the foot.”
The Bruins offense did have one notable drop early in the game which ended up as an interception. Outside of that though, the Bruins offense was dominant for a second-straight week. Among Ketton’s 276 yards on the ground, more than 200 of it came on three carries of 65, 72 and 75 yards. The latter two went for touchdowns, while the 65-yarder set up a late first-half touchdown allowing Santa Clara to enter halftime up 29-14.
“I think this might have been my best game,” chuckled Ketton after the win. “Even better than my game last year against Gunderson at Levi’s [Stadium].”
“Ive played with Ketton for six years and he’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with,” chimed Perez-Kady.
“We knew it was coming,” noted coach Roberts on Overfelt’s onside-kick attempt to start the game. “We know [Ketton] is special, and when [Ketton] goes back there nobody is going to kick it to him.”
Ketton plays in almost every situation. He’s even the team’s placeholder for kicker Nick Garcia. After scoring 70-yard touchdowns Ketton doesn’t get to immediately come to the sideline for high fives and a drink of water. He remains on the field to hike the ball from the long snapper and hold it for Garcia’s point-after attempts.
“Pretty much,” laughed Ketton on if he’s always been placeholder for field goals. “Last year I actually did kickoff too so I had no break. But since I’m not on kickoffs anymore, I got that sweet little break right there.”
The Bruins will look to improve to 3-0 against Harker on Sept. 8.
Note: With some early-season schedule quirks, our football focus has been on the Bruins. The Wilcox Chargers will be featured starting with their game on Sept. 15.