Vista shut out by Oak Ridge, 28-0

By: Jim Ratajczak, The Telegraph
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Coming off of a dominant win against McClatchy High School, the Vista del Lago varsity Eagles were looking for more of the same Halloween night. Instead, they were treated to a thumping from nearby rival Oak Ridge, 28-0. Eagles head coach Chris Jones attributed the difference between last week’s game and Friday night’s to the quality of opponent. “That’s what’s so hard to gauge sometimes,” he said. “The competition changes from week to week.” The Trojans controlled the game on both sides of the ball for the first half. The scoring began when Oak Ridge quarterback Connor Benander pitched the ball to running back Jacob Allen from the team’s own 44 yard line. Allen eluded tackles as he dashed into the end zone and ORHS took a 7-0 lead with 8:48 left in the first quarter. Allen scored two more times in the first half, once on a handoff from the Vista 49 and again on a handoff from the Vista 15. The game’s scoring concluded when Benander handed off to running back Jordan Matanane with 1:49 before the half. The Trojan defense proved equally capable by pressuring Vista quarterback Anthony Mull all night. Not only did the Eagles offensive line struggled not only to protect Mull all night long but also running back Trey Hairabedian, normally Vista’s top offensive playmaker. “Their defense was strong,” said Mull. “They’re good.” “We struggled up on the interior,” said Jones. “We knew that was a strength of Oak Ridge.” Although the Eagles failed to put any points on the board, Jones was able to take some minor victories from Friday’s game. “We got first downs in the second half,” he said. “And we kept them off the board in the second half. That was key for us.” Many wondered how Jones would approach the game against Oak Ridge, the team he coached for 13 years before coming to Vista. But again, he maintained it was just another game on the schedule. “Quite honestly, for me it was just another game,” he said. “This wasn’t about me. It’s about (the players). I don’t ever want the focus to be on me.” But Mull conceded this loss was especially painful for the squad. “The team definitely wanted to win,” he said. “This is the start of a rivalry. We do a lot of stuff like them. They’re right next door to us.” Next week, the Eagles make the trip to Union Mine to face the Diamondbacks. “In a lot of ways, we’ll be playing a team that’s similar to us,” said Jones. “We’re at our best when we execute. We haven’t wavered from that plan.” JV at a glance The junior varsity fared no better against Oak Ridge, dropping its game 49-31. “We tried to come out and have fun,” said head coach John Hardwick. “But when it didn’t go our way, we put our heads down.” Hardwick said his team needed to be reminded football should be enjoyed during halftime. He was able to see a difference in play and demeanor in the final two quarters. “I’m proud of our second half,” he said. “We were more physical.” As the team looks ahead to Union Mine, Hardwick said the focus will be on that physical style of play. “We’re going to try to win a game,” he said. “We’re going to work on being more physical.”