Scrimmages give Bulldogs taste of things to come
By Nancy Sapper
After weeks in the weight room, hot summer days on the gridiron, and even weekly yoga classes, the Ramona High School football program was ready for battle in what has become an annual tradition in late August: The San Pasqual 4-Way Scrimmage.
This event serves as the last tune-up before it counts, with the 2014 season beginning Friday night, Aug. 29, at El Cajon Valley High School.
Going into last Friday’s match-ups Coach Baldwin had simple goals: “Can we block, tackle and play physical?” Coming off a successful 2013 campaign that took the varsity team to the CIF San Diego Section semifinals, the coaching staff needed to be sure ample progress was being made to fill key positions vacated by some talented graduating seniors.
This year’s scrimmage match-ups were versus Carlsbad, Poway and San Pasqual. All three teams gave Ramona’s boys a chance to see how they stack up physically against other top-notch North County programs. Carlsbad and Poway are on the Bulldog’s regular season schedule this year.
In the opening match between Carlsbad and Ramona, there were some obvious nerves as both teams looked to battle opponents across the line rather than teammates across the line as they had been seeing over the past several weeks in practice. With each snap of the ball, the Dawgs began to gel, overcoming early miscues and penalties.
Offensively, running back Brandon Gansch dominated the other squads each time he touched the ball. Although there were new faces in the receiving corps, quarterback Marco Cobian was able to dissect the defense, and Dylan Shields, Tyler Vargas and Garrett Binkley ran crisp routes.
There are still some questions on the offensive line regarding depth at key positions. Raul Briseno, this year’s starting center, went down early against Carlsbad and did not return.
First team defense played exceptionally well, noted Baldwin. They were hard hitting and aggressive going to the ball. Brett Cooper was a standout at cornerback.
Overall, Baldwin was pleased with how well the varsity team played this early.
“You can sure see how our summer camp preparations got us ready to compete,” he said. “Wow, did we ever have some guys hitting. Brandon Gansch was the man out there. He ran powerful, fast, quick and downhill. All Ramona running backs, from our team all the way down to Pop Warner, need to watch this kid run. He emulates what you want in a running back.”
The coaches evaluated the game film all day Saturday, said Baldwin, “and obviously there are a lot of mistakes to fix, but overall Ramona was the stronger team on that field Friday. Now we get to line up for real Aug. 29 at El Cajon Valley High.”
The junior varsity team struggled a bit but showed signs of having the potential to be a good team. Quarterback Cameron Rowles can be special and tight end Marcus Boykins had some big catches for yardage.
“Positions are still open and this team will take shape slowly as the season moves along,” said Baldwin. “The offensive and defensive lines have a lot of new faces and those positions take some time for development.”
The JV team became stronger as the scrimmage moved along and that is exactly what head coach Marc Boykins and his staff were looking to see. El Cajon Valley canceled the JV game slated for Friday afternoon due to not having enough JV players to field the game. The Bulldog varsity game will start at 7 p.m. Friday at El Cajon Valley.
The freshman team had a strong outing. Head coach John Pecoraro and his staff thought it was a great day of work as the offense and defense showcased their work ethic and cadre of talented players.
“There is a very good group of kids on this year’s frosh team and, if they can stick it out all four years, this group has a chance to win some championships,” said Baldwin.
The freshman “Bull Pups” open their season at home versus El Cajon Valley Thursday, Aug. 28, 5 p.m.
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