After a long offseason, including an unwanted taste of a 2-8 record still lingering, the Santa Clara Bruins football team unleashed a ringing roar of pent-up frustration on Friday night. Their opponent, the Prospect Panthers, didn’t stand a chance.
Opening the season on their home turf, the Bruins pounced quickly en route to a 21-0 lead just five minutes into the game. Santa Clara never looked back from there. A 41-0 halftime lead turned into a 62-0 advantage. A late 4th quarter touchdown ended the Bruins’ bid at a shutout.
“Our Defensive Coordinator Andrew Calderon had a great game plan,” commented Bruins Head Coach Hank Roberts. “We were talking in the weight room at halftime about how good our linebacker corps played. Jaren Valdez is amazing and [Jakob] Kuharik and obviously Antonio Soto. We just played great.”
In the second half, Soto stripped the ball from a Panther running back simultaneously securing the ball without it even falling to the ground. He then returned it all the way to the end zone for a 40-yard touchdown.
“It’s just something I’ve practiced going for since I was a little kid,” mentioned Soto on his strip fumble. “I already had two chances earlier to make a similar strip, so the third chance I had to make the most of it. I just stripped it and took it back to the house.”
Along with the linebackers, Bruins cornerback Albert Leal Jr. also stood out by denying multiple Panther first downs with impressive pass breakups.
“[Albert] has taken a lot of pride in being a great corner and just working as hard as he can,” remarked coach Roberts. “I’m really happy that somebody else got to see how good he is besides us. He goes against [skilled wide receivers] Nick Garcia and Richard Corona every time we get a chance to go one on one at practice.”
Corona caught two of Santa Clara’s first three touchdowns in the first quarter. The junior’s success against Prospect wasn’t unexpected according to the head coach, who had high praise for his starting wide receiver.
“I don’t want to say that he’s going to be the best receiver in our league, but somebody better figure out a way to take him away,” lauded coach Roberts on Corona. “He’s really good.”
Senior starting quarterback Christopher Brown and tailback Erik Ketton also reached pay dirt in the blowout victory. After the game Ketton deflected praise to his teammates.
“That was a big hole,” chimed the running back on his 65-yard touchdown run. “I gotta give props to my linemen right there.”
Ketton also applauded the defense’s effort on the near shutout, saying, “personally I think Albert [Leal] is the best [defensive back] in the league. Our defense balled out today.”
While the Bruins defense certainly sparkled, no coach is ever 100 percent satisfied in any victory, even in a win as lopsided as a 62-7 final score.
“We muffed a punt and had that stupid penalty on the sideline. Plus we got a little chippy at times,” noted coach Roberts. “That second quarter we kind of lost focus. I’m obviously not very excited about what happened there, but better to happen today than later on in the season.”
Santa Clara takes on Overfelt next week as they attempt to start the season 2-0.