De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) coach Justin Alumbaugh is still trying to figure this year’s team out. He’ll get some answers Saturday night when the No. 6 Spartans play at No. 12 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas).
SCORE PREDICTOR: No. 6 De La Salle vs No. 12 Bishop Gorman
“We’ve just got to be more consistent,” Alumbaugh said. “The effort is there for the most part, the guys are playing hard. Our physicality has been good. Those are two key components that I like, how hard we are playing and how physical we are playing. Sometimes defensively or offensively, we’ve had some real mental miscues that we’re trying to shore up. If we do that, we have the capability to be a real good team. If we don’t, against a team like Gorman, we’re in big trouble.”
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De La Salle improved to 3-0 last week with a 31-7 defeat of St. Francis (Mountain View, Calif.). While the Spartans struggled on offense, their defense allowed only one yard of rushing. The week before, in a 35-31 defeat of No. 17 St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.), a slow-starting offense and a few defensive mix-ups meant that De La Salle had to rally from a 17-point deficit.
One thing that has been consistent for the Spartans is senior running back Kairee Robinson, who has scored two touchdowns in each of the team’s games this season, including two touchdown runs and 148 yards on 18 carries last week.
“The tendency with our offense with a lot of backs is to try to do too much and try to break one every play,” Alumbaugh said. “He’s been really patient, since he’s such a strong, thick kid, that he pounds it, pounds it and when the opportunity presents itself, he has the speed to try to capitalize on that.”
Bishop Gorman is 1-2 for the first time since 2006. That’s more than a bit misleading, however, as all of the Gaels’ games have been against ranked teams, including losses to No. 1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) and No. 7 Miami Central (Miami) and a win over No. 15 De Matha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.).
“This is the most atypical 1-2 team that you will come across,” Alumbaugh said. “Anyone who doesn’t think this is one of the best teams in the country is completely lost. These guys are outstanding. They have played three of the top teams in the country. I’ll clue everyone in: Miami Central is really good, Mater Dei is really good, DeMatha is really good. … One and two does not do them justice.”
Bishop Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez said his players don’t have the luxury of feeling bad.
“I don’t care how they feel,” Sanchez said. “You have to have a short memory and move on. Say we had won those three games. What would be the goal this week? It would be to win. You come in with a goal each week and that’s really all it has to be. They have to be mature about it.”
The last time the teams met was in 2010, when De La Salle came away with a 28-14 win in Concord.
“They’re good every year,” Sanchez said. “They haven’t dropped off at all. This year, they are a little better than last year. The Veer is tough to defend because you don’t see it at all.”
One big bright spot for Bishop Gorman has been the play of tight end Brevin Jordan, a Miami commit who has 18 catches for 213 yards and two touchdown catches. The first came off a screen pass that he broke for a 41-yard touchdown against Mater Dei. Last week, he had this catch against Miami Central:
“The two guys who really pop off the film for them are offensively, No. 9 (Jordan), who has had some incredible plays and he’s a good blocker and No. 10 (linebacker Palaie Gaoteote) is a handful that is tough to deal with,” Alumbaugh said.