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Wildcats move past Week 1

Posted: September 10, 2009 10:34 p.m.
Updated: September 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
West Ranch football is not looking to make excuses.

After its 10-8 loss to Hueneme of Oxnard in Week 1, it could have.

Instead, the Wildcats (0-1) found a gem.

His name is Trevin Manuel, and head coach Sean O’Brien plans to utilize him and a turnover-minded defense when the team hosts Lancaster at 7 p.m. today at Valencia High School.

“He’s definitely worked his way into an integral part of the offense,” O’Brien said.

The junior accounted for all of West Ranch’s scoring against Hueneme, barrelling over would-be tacklers for a touchdown and a two-point conversion in his first varsity game.

At 5-foot-11-inch and 230 pounds, the fullback adds power and options, especially next to slashing senior running back Zak Snell.

“We are not looking for subtlety, but (to) also threaten the perimeter,” O’Brien said. “Our goal is to be able to establish two fundamentally different kinds of run.”

But in order to establish the running game, the Wildcats must shore up their offensive line.

It was a problem for the team a week ago, allowing four sacks of quarterback Connor Eichten in the first half.

“We’ve spent all of this week working on high-pressure defense against our offense,” O’Brien said. “We really firmed up our blitz protection.”

The coach also gave a lot of praise to his defense for the way it played against the Vikings, surrendering a mere field goal with 44 seconds left in regulation.

Hueneme’s other seven came by way of a fumbled punt that was recovered in the end zone.

West Ranch Junior defensive back Matt Bruns recorded two interceptions while fellow junior defensive back Matt Romano picked another.

And despite the Eagles’ score a week ago — a 58-0 loss to Crespi of Encino — O’Brien said that Lancaster has weapons, particularly senior quarterback Cash Oliver, who led the team with 305 yards passing last season, appearing in only three games.

He will lead Lancaster’s spread-option offense.

“The strength for us would probably be our quarterback and skill positions,” said Eagles head coach Chad Shrout. “We are not very deep on the O-line for sure.”

Also playing in the team’s favor is the fact that structure and routine has returned to West Ranch’s practice.

Last week, the program’s schedule was interrupted because of poor air quality due to the Station Fire.

Regardless, O’Brien said it’s not an excuse.

“Football is all about adversity,” he said. “Every team faces adversity of one sort or another. We faced some and we weren’t able to overcome it.”

As such, Lancaster may be looking to simplify after watching West Ranch play a week ago.

“They have a pretty good tempo late in the game,” Shrout said. “They controlled the clock really well. They changed the speed in the game. ... They don’t have to make whole lot of personnel changes. That is something with us with 26 kids (on the varsity roster) — controlling the speed of the game a little bit.”

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