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Cents embark on tough slate

Posted: September 16, 2009 9:41 p.m.
Updated: September 17, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
What does it say about Saugus football when the Centurions turned the ball over five times against Pasadena in their season opener and still won the game by 10 points?

It says they’re lucky or good or both.

They’ll have to rely more on being good than lucky today when the Centurions (1-0) host perennial Northern Division power Westlake (1-0) at 7:30 p.m at Cougar Stadium.

The gauntlet begins for the Centurions tonight as they embark on arguably the most difficult pre-Foothill League stretch of any local team this season.

Saugus’ next four opponents are ranked in their respective divisions.

Westlake is No. 5 in the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division.

Saugus is No. 4.

“The rankings are a little skewed right now. We both had one game,” said Westlake head coach Jim Benkert. “It’s kind of a preseason ranking not worth anything. Not to downplay the fact we’re playing a good program, but it does put a feather in the cap to win the game if you’re Westlake or Saugus.”

The Centurions’ biggest problem in a 17-7 win over Pasadena last Friday was turning the ball over.

But the defense stepped up and deserves a lot of credit for the victory.

The challenge this week is keeping a well-balanced Warriors team from going off like it did last week in a 48-26 victory over Paso Robles.

Benkert doesn’t expect to see an offensive explosion like he did last week.

“Saugus is a well-coached football team with a lot of returning guys on defense,” Benkert said. “They make you drive the football. They don’t give you the big plays. Paso Robles, a couple of times the (defensive backs) fell down. We took advantage. Those things aren’t going to happen (all the time).”

The major beneficiary of those big plays was junior wide receiver Nelson Spruce, who caught five passes for 233 yards and four touchdowns.

The 6-foot-2-inch, 190-pounder was an All-Marmonte League defensive back last season.

Westlake used two quarterbacks in the week-one victory — Michael Bercovici and Nick Isham.

Benkert said he tries to work in two quarterbacks early to give them experience.

The Warriors gained 231 yards on the ground in their victory, led by 131 on 13 carries by Tavior Mowry.

Westlake, though, lost eight defenders to graduation in 2009.

It started a freshman cornerback in Justin Moore last Friday.

But Saugus struggled on offense last Friday.

Expected starting running back Tyler Watt is out again this week with a foot injury that may sideline him until early October.

Without Watt, Saugus had problems in its backfield, gaining only 50 yards on 37 carries.

Not to mention the three turnovers in the Centurions’ backfield.

“Far and away, we have to control the football offensively or on special teams,” said Saugus head coach Jason Bornn. “(We have to think) that football is the $50 million lottery ticket and we’re not going to give it up.”

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