The way Dylan Leach sees the emotional game of football, if one door shuts, just open the next one.
A week after his team missed a chance to become the first Vintage squad in 20 years to win its first five games, the Crushers looked as if that six-turnover shutout loss at Vanden had never happened.
Hosting Rodriguez in its Monticello Empire League opener, Vintage scored on seven of its eight possessions – three times off turnovers – and didn’t cough up the ball once as it dominated the Mustangs, 48-0, at Memorial Stadium.
There are still other ways for the Crushers (5-1 overall) to make history this season, and they looked ready to do that again.
“We turned the page – that’s what it came down to,” Leach said. “I told these kids all week, ‘I’m not going to be down about a 4-1 start. We lost a game.’ I’ve been doing this a long time. This is my 19th year coaching, and after every loss I got, the sun came out the next day. Does it hurt? Yes, and it should, because (that means) you care. I tell these kids ‘It should be devastating to you, but let’s only be devastated for a night, and let’s get back to work.’ That what we’re all about.”
James Robert rushed for a career-high 149 yards and touchdowns of 1, 5 and 9 yards and turned a screen pass into a 28-yard score to lead Vintage’s offense.
“Last week the line was missing a lot of their assignments and our left guard was injured. We got him replaced because he couldn’t play this week. They got their heads on the right side and did all their assignments right,” Roberts said, “The holes were opening up tonight, for sure.”
Rodriguez (1-4) had come within a broken up two-point conversion pass of stunning former Justin-Siena coach Rich Cotruvo’s 5-1 Terra Linda squad in a 34-33 road loss the week before. But the Crushers dominated time of possession and kept the Mustangs’ potent offense off the field en route to a 27-0 halftime lead.
Vintage’s second possession was a backbreaker for the visitors.
Facing a fourth-and-3 from their own 24 and looking at a three-and-out, the Crushers lined up for a punt but gave the ball to Viliami Schaumkel instead. The junior pumped his legs and shoulders furiously until he was inches past the first-down marker. Four plays later, on fourth and 1, Roberts surged off left tackle for another first down. Roberts would cap the march by taking Isaiah Garcia’s screen pass to the house, getting a nice downfield block from sophomore Jack Odell.
It was a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust kind of night for the Crushers.
“That’s what our coaches were saying, ‘That’s how we play football,’” Robert said. “In the kind of games we should be punching it in, we punch it in, and we did that tonight. We had a good game plan and we knew we had to stick to the game plan. We had a plan and executed.”
Once Robert gave Vintage a three-score cushion, other Crushers got in on the act.
Jesus Galvan cut through a huge hole off right tackle and went 27 yards untouched for a 27-0 lead. It was the only touchdown not followed by an extra point from Eddy Gonzalez, who was a perfect 6 of 6. He made it, but Rodriguez was offsides, so Vintage went for two points and came up short.
Rodriguez finally stopped Vintage on its first series of the second half, as Keichaun Parker batted down Garcia’s fourth-down pass in the end zone.
“We left our first line in maybe an extra five minutes more than we should have just because we wanted to get some practice time with them,” Leach said. “We thought we made some bad decisions last week and we had to cover for that. We had to make sure we executed.”
Vintage got the ball right back with a three-and-out, and Zach Geary’s 28-yard catch set up Robert’s 9-yard TD run for a 34-0 lead.
Robert went over 600 yards for the season with his big night.
“He’s tough and we know that,” Leach said of the senior. “We want to get him the ball, feed him, because we go as our running game goes. I thought he had a great night.”
Even Vintage’s second-string offense put together a nine-play scoring drive, as quarterback Troy Ghisletta found Dayne Contreras for a 26-yard completion, ran 11 yards on a keeper, and found Ronnie Porter with a 6-yard TD strike to make it 41-0.
With a running clock due to the margin of at least 35 points, the Crushers’ reserves managed to tack on another score after Sam Carter’s interception and 35-yard return. Sophomore Pedja Zivkovic did the honors, bolting in from 5 yards out to cap the scoring, and Justin Ellis preserved the shutout with a last-play interception.
“The defense played well last week (too),” Leach said. “A lot of people see the (14-7) loss, but that was solely on the offensive side. (Our defense) gave up six points and they only gave up seven. The defense has been playing great all year. The staff and the kids do a great job with the game plans. I’m excited to see us moving forward and if our defense can’t keep us in games.”
Next up for Vintage is a key MEL game at Vacaville, which won 51-6 at Armijo on Friday. More interestingly, the Bulldogs managed to go 3-3 against preseason opponents that are now a combined 25-6.
“We’ve got to focus this week a lot more,” Robert said.
Vintage JV 34, Rodriguez 14
Mauricio Castro ran for the Crushers’ first two touchdowns, Albert Savala scored the third, and Bryce Eade added two more as Vintage (3-1-1 overall) took a 34-0 halftime lead and cruised to the MEL-opening victory.