Trojans handle Eagles, 33-22

By: Matt Long/Folsom Telegraph Sports Editor
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Oak Ridge’s special teams were special for most of the night and they helped the Trojans to a 33-22 opening-season win over Vista del Lago on Friday night. Bobby Gatta returned a kick 87 yards to put the Trojans in front for good at the end of the first quarter and a 43-yard punt return by Dylan Collie six minutes later set up a Preston Dean touchdown run two plays later that gave the Trojans a commanding 19-7 lead. On Oak Ridge’s next possession, a 63-yard touchdown pass from Jason Samuels to Collie put the Trojans up 25-7 and they held on for the win. “It was a sloppy game with a lot of mistakes and penalties but we’ll clean that up,” Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere said. “Our defense played their butts off and I thought our front seven played great. Jason (Samuels) did a heck of a job and all of our backs ran hard and ran well.” Vista del Lago was hoping to upset the Trojans on their home turf, but was not consistent enough on offense to keep up with Oak Ridge. The Eagles battled hard throughout the game and kept it close, but didn’t make the big play when they needed it. “We played well in spurts in every facet of the game,” Vista coach Chris Jones said. “We looked good on defense at times and in the kicking game and on offense, but at other times we didn’t look so good. On offense it seemed like we were fighting an uphill battle with penalties and dropped passes, but at other times we did OK. You can’t win when you turn the ball over four times and give up a kickoff return for a touchdown and have another long punt return that set up another score.” Oak Ridge got on the scoreboard first on a 10-yard pass from Samuels to Lance Berringer. Vista took its only lead on a 19-yard pass from Aaron Young to Logan Smith and the ensuing extra point from Trevor Meredith made the score 7-6. Gatta then scored on his 87-yard kickoff return, the first of three consecutive scores for the Trojans that gave them, on this night, an insurmountable lead. Dean followed with a two-yard run after Collie’s punt return and Samuels later hooked up with Collie on a 63-yard touchdown pass. The Eagles answered with a 56-yard kickoff return for a score by Smith and trailed at halftime 26-14. The teams played evenly in the second half, each scoring once. Samuels scored on a three-yard run, while Andrew Willetts returned an interception 15 yards for a score. The biggest negative for the Trojans was an injury to Xavier Lopez in the second half. “I know his knee hurts,” Cavaliere said of his three-year, two-way starter at tight end and on the defensive line. “That’s a huge loss. We’re crossing our fingers and hopes he gets some good news.” Oak Ridge JV 30, Vista 7 Colton Giorgi scored on Oak Ridge’s first play from scrimmage on a 70-yard run and later scored on a five-yard run as the Trojans rolled to a 30-7 victory. Tanner Hughes also scored on a 23-yard run and a safety late in the first half gave Oak Ridge a 23-7 lead. The team’s final score came in the third quarter on a 34-yard pass from Victor Bunce to Justin Priest. Mitch Jones scored Vista’s only touchdown on a 64-yard run in the first quarter. “We played well defensively, allowing only one score on a mental error,” Oak Ridge coach Ron Short said. “I am proud of our defense. We still have to get into rhythm on offense. We have to execute better.” Short said he’s happy with where the team is at after week one. “We’re good, but we have to decide if we want to be great,” he said. “We have to be willing to pay the price to be great. The kids are working hard and they have a lot of potential.”