BELLFLOWER, CALIF. — No. 3 St. John Bosco (Bellflower, California) took home the 31-8 victory over Good Counsel (Olney, Maryland), but the score wasn’t quite indicative of how Bosco played.
Head coach Jason Negro’s evaluation: “Sloppy and out of rhythm.”
With Good Counsel almost exclusively running the ball – playing “keep away,” as Negro referred to it – the offense could not establish a rhythm quickly. While that group struggled, the defense performed very well, but flags haunted both ends for Bosco. Even special teams had flubs, including the first punt of the game that didn’t leave Bosco territory.
But St. John Bosco got the win. The running backs broke out in the second half and a couple defenders led the pace as Good Counsel couldn’t produce on offense.
Here are some takeaways:
“Uncharacteristic” flags on Bosco
There were two St. John Bosco students on the sideline late in the second quarter. Not football players. But after another flag, one that pushed St. John Bosco’s offense to a third-and-31 with the first half winding down to cut off Braves momentum as they tried to extend the lead to three touchdowns, one of the students asked aloud “How many flags are we gonna get?”
The other responded: “We’re not really good at discipline.”
That’s not something head coach Jason Negro would want to hear, but he couldn’t disagree about Friday. It was an abnormal performance for Bosco.
“It’s a little uncharacteristic of our team,” Negro said. “I think 160 yards, 15 penalties, something like that, you cannot be effective and you can’t get into the flow of the game and it just makes things so much more difficult.”
Bosco is a good enough team that penalties won’t ruin their game against inferior competition if the defense plays as well as it can. Good Counsel is No. 8 in the East Region, ranked by MaxPreps as a top-50 team, but St. John Bosco is a perennial national contender.
Against teams as good as them, they can’t be squandering opportunities like that. Instead of scoring, it was a 14-0 game at halftime.
“Those are the things that we just gotta fix against really good football teams,” Negro said.
Bosco’s defense led the way
St. John Bosco won by 23, but the offense wasn’t truly clicking.
Wide receiver Beaux Collins called it a “little rough in the beginning.”
A week after DJ Uiagalelei threw for 290 yards and five touchdowns on just nine throws, the deep routes and quick action wasn’t there. Quite a few passes were dropped by receivers in the first half. The flags weren’t a help.
But the defense withstood the penalties (even if it caused a few). Good Counsel could not move the ball. Even after the very first drive of the game, when St. John Bosco punted the ball to its own 35-yard line, the Falcons couldn’t score. On its second possession of the game, Good Counsel attempted a deep pass. It was picked off by safety Jake Newman, which led to a quick touchdown on offense.
On the defensive line, Kobe Pepe always seemed to be around the ball carrier.
Linebacker Danny Lockhart was instrumental in blitzing. He reads the snap well to burst past the line of scrimmage,
“He’s got a pretty good nose for getting into the backfield,” Negro said.
On the first drive in the third quarter, Lockhart got through again and tackled the quarterback at the line of scrimmage, forcing a fourth down that turned into a turnover on downs at midfield. Bosco scored on the ensuing drive to increase the lead to 21-0.
St. John Bosco running game taking shape
After a couple of subpar weeks by running backs, the group with senior Nate Jones and a pair of sophomores broke out in the second half Friday.
“I’m super pleased with them,” Negro said. “They’re not real big but they’re speedy and they’re physical guys.”
They might not be able to replicate George Holani’s production last year, but the three as a group splitting carries showed it can inflict damage.
Jones had three straight carries in the first drive of the second half, punching in the touchdown on the final one.
Jabari Bates broke out for consecutive 19-yard runs to get the ball from Bosco’s 42-yard line to its own 20-yard line.
Then, it was Rayshon Luke’s turn. He had a pair of long runs that set up a touchdown by wide receiver Kris Hutson in the fourth quarter.
Coming into the game, the team was averaging 133.7 rushing yards per game. Luke led the team with 25 carries and 56.7 yards per game.
Friday was an improvement.
“Once they get through and they pop, they can go,” Negro said. “We ran the ball for almost 200 yards tonight, which was pretty good.”