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Another tough matchup

Posted: September 24, 2009 10:33 p.m.
Updated: September 25, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Saugus quarterback Zack Gauthier dives over a Westlake player Sept. 17.

 
Saugus' football team is looking to rebound from a tough loss last week against Westlake, currently the No. 4-ranked team in the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division.

When the Centurions (1-1) face Newbury Park (2-0) tonight, which is the No. 5-ranked team in the same division, Saugus head coach Jason Bornn said one group in particular needs to step it up.

"The 11 guys on defense are going to be huge for us," Bornn said of his team. "Our defense against their running game is going to be the No. 1 priority."

Carrying the offensive load for the Panthers is senior captain Cameron Roberson, a 6-foot-1-inch 220-pound running back who signed a letter of intent to play for Notre Dame.

Newbury Park head coach Gary Fabricius said the attention of the signing has meant Roberson is frequently seeing seven and eight defenders in the box, which has resulted in Roberson not yet reaching the 100-yard rushing mark this season.

Fabricius said Roberson has unselfishly accepted his de facto role as a sort of decoy, which has really opened up the passing game and made Roberson more involved as a play-action threat.

Bornn said a big part of slowing Newbury Park's offense will be playing four quarters of football, which his team struggled to do against Westlake and in a 17-7 win at Pasadena on Sept. 11.

"I thought at times we ran effectively and threw effectively. We just have to be more consistent," Bornn said.

Senior quarterback Zack Gauthier carried the team last week on offense, carrying the ball 27 times for 136 yards.
This week, the coach said he will try to get more yards out of the backfield from the team's running backs, sophomore Devin Gustaveson and Donavyn Hardy.

Newbury Park meanwhile, has had some success scoring on both sides of the ball.

Schemewise, the team relies on a 3-5-3 defense that Fabricius said emphasizes speed over size, a set his team is able to exploit by using the element of surprise.

"We try to confuse people with our speed and go 100 miles an hour," Fabricius said.

"Teams see it a lot now," he added referring to the 3-5-3. "But if you're good at it, it still causes problems."

It definitely caused problems for Rio Mesa, a Sept. 17 Newbury Park 34-6 victory in which the defense forced several turnovers, scored a touchdown and gave the Panthers' offense favorable field position for most of the game.

"They played really well and gave the offense a short field a lot," their coach said.

Drake Exstrom and Jake Sackheim are a big reason for that, a pair of speedy mid-sized seniors who help lead their squad at the linebacker spot.

But ultimately, controlling possession of the ball and getting the Panthers' offense off the field will be the keys for the Centurions.

"When it comes down to it, they're going to try to get the ball to (Roberson), and we're going to have to stop them," Bornn said.


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