The coaches from Oregon State who came to scout the Riordan Crusaders and Mitty Monarchs on Friday night were treated to a show within the first five minutes.
Like the Beavers’ coaches, most of Riordan’s players were merely spectators during that time.
Mitty (5-1, 2-1 West Catholic Athletic League) scored three times in the first four minutes and 19 seconds, opening up what proved to be an insurmountable lead as the Crusaders fell 34-13 at Foothill College, which serves as the Monarchs’ home field.
“Eye discipline, a protection mess-up and we let their best player get free,” head coach Adhir Ravipati said when asked about the early debacle. “You can’t let that type of athleticism go.”
The Monarchs scored on their fourth play from scrimmage, a 41-yard Wills Towers pass to Charlie Butler on a double reverse flea flicker that strongly resembled the one Sacred Heart Prep used to beat the Crusaders in a 2015 Central Coast Section (CCS) Championship Game. Sacramento State commit Danny Scudero’s 41-yard pick-six made it 14-0 after two minutes and two seconds. Barely two minutes later, Scudero found himself in the end zone again on a 67-yard reception as he left one defender in the dust, then broke a tackle inside the 10-yard line to make it 21-0.
Rade Galeb’s 27-yard field goal on the final play of the first half made it 24-0, and Scudero caught a 41-yard touchdown early in the third to extend the lead to 31, breaking free after a Crusader defender matched him stride-for-stride until the pass was thrown. In all, Scudero finished with 125 receiving yards on just four catches. He also had a 12-yard carry, a sack and the pick-six.
“Danny Scudero’s so fast, it’s unreal,” Monarchs head coach Danny Sullivan said of his star.
Riordan (3-3, 1-2) got on the board on the next play from scrimmage. After Javius Redding’s long kick return, star defensive end Isaiah Chala lined up at tight end, took a short Michael Mitchell Jr. screen pass and broke a pair of tackles for a 54-yard score.
“We’re gonna find ways to try to get him involved,” said Ravipati of Chala. “He’s a great player, and you need to get your best players on the field and find a way to get the ball in their hands.”
Chala teamed up with Jordan McQueen on a sack in the first half, but took a heavy blindside hit during the fourth quarter while the Monarchs were returning a Steven Anaya interception.
Anaya was matched up with Zachary Jones, who returned from the ankle sprain he suffered in a Week 4 loss to Sacred Heart Prep. Jones finished with three catches for 23 yards, but the Crusaders suffered from the absences of running back King-Njhsanni Wilhite (collarbone) and WR/CB Zion Wells (medical).
Even without Wilhite, Riordan averaged 6.5 yards per rushing attempt, bolstered by Redding’s 54-yard touchdown that cut the lead to 31-13. Redding finished with 94 yards on 10 carries, and he intercepted Towers late in the fourth quarter.
“Javius played with a lot of heart,” Ravipati said. “He’s one of the best football players I’ve ever had.”
That interception was one of Towers’ only mistakes on the night. The three-year starter completed 12 of 16 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns, even with one of his favorite targets, Ben Kim, out with an AC joint injury. Facing third-and-15 after the Redding TD, Towers found Anaya for a 27-yard pickup that killed any Riordan momentum. Donovan McClain’s sack on the opening play of the fourth quarter kept Mitty out of the end zone, but Galeb’s 36-yard field goal brought the lead back to 21.
Mitchell, who faced heavy pressure all night, completed just six of 19 passes for Riordan, totaling 85 yards. He was sacked twice, once by Scudero and once by Evan Dexter.
“We’ve gotta help Mike,” Ravipati said of the poor pass protection, which contributed to both of Mitchell’s interceptions. Anaya’s interception in the fourth quarter was set up by heavy pressure from Diego Aguilar.
Penalties once again piled up for Riordan, with eight flags totaling 65 yards. The most glaring error came late in the first quarter, when the Crusaders would have had the ball at their own 48 after a shanked Mitty punt if not for a holding penalty on the other side of the field. While it went in the books as a 10-yard foul, it was 10 yards from the spot of the hold, putting the ball at the Riordan 33.
“We’re just not consistent right now,” Ravipati said. “When we’re in rhythm and we’re executing, we can do some things.”
Justice Toavalu had four catches for 62 yards and ran 16 times for 56 for the Monarchs, who will face Bellarmine (3-3, 2-1) at San Jose City College next Friday night. Riordan hosts Serra (6-0, 3-0) next Saturday. The Padres beat Bellarmine on Friday, 28-7.
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]