Friday, September 5, 2008

Tigers ready for upcoming season

The season is upon us when high school kids are hoisted onto a pedestal and created into local football heroes.

And Thursday, the Patterson High football team got their first chance at heavy hitting outside their own huddles.

It’s tough to tell exactly what the scrimmage between the Patterson and Ceres football teams means in the long run.

But the Tigers looked every bit the Western Athletic Conference title contender it’s hoping to be and Ceres looked every bit the inexperienced rebuilding team.

The good comes with the bad in any scrimmage situation, however, and that certainly was the case when Patterson coach Rob Cozart tested his Tigers squad in its final dress rehearsal before next weeks season opener against McClatchy.

Early on, the Tigers offense had their way in the proceedings. Senior Malik Okitukunda ripped off runs of 10 and 12 yards to show that quality running backs remain on campus despite the departure of key players from last season.

Patterson used four different backs on their first possession: Okitukunda, Siaosi Tupouata, Emmanuel Brooks and Larry Taylor.

Tigers quarterback Daniel Reza found plenty of time to spot receiver Ronyea Ellington, capping off the opening drive with a 4-yard score, thanks to the protection provided by the offensive line.

The Tigers offensive line appears to be a team strength, and honestly, that’s not a bad place to start. When the guys up front do their jobs well, everyone else on the unit becomes a better player.

The same can be said for the other side of the football. Patterson started slow on defense but improved as the scrimmage wore on. The stingy first unit allowed only a single touchdown against the much maligned — and overwhelmed — Ceres offense.

Each team had three 15-minute possessions — beginning at the 20-yard line — to execute as many plays as possible.

The Patterson offense was efficient, putting nine touchdown-scoring drives together, including six in the final 15-minutes of the scrimmage.

Reza looked calm in situations that forced him out of the pocket, often times surveying the field before tucking the ball away and breaking off big gain carries of his own.

As expected, Ellington looks to be his number one threat downfield, but junior Jake Saavedra proved to be a consistent option in check down situations.

But, it wasn’t just the first team offense that shined.

Back-up quarterback Wyatt Young showed his agility and break-away speed, scurrying for several big-yardage bursts, including a 56-yard scamper down the sidelines for a touchdown.

The offensive second unit also showed increased depth, including running backs Derrick Brown and Anthony Sanchez.

The Tigers open the season on Friday at home versus McClatchy High of Stockton. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.

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