By Bill Tamburrino
“We have met the enemy and it is us.” The well-known quote could apply to the Ramona Bulldog football team.
The Dawgs improved from their first game against Grossmont but lost to Morse 27-17 in their home opener. Bulldog mistakes were instrumental in the lost.
“Our team made a lot of improvement from week one,” said Coach Damon Baldwin. “Our defensive and offensive lines made huge strides. Preston Johnson and Kwayde Miller both played very well.
“Morse did not beat us. Ramona beat Ramona. However, we played extremely hard. Our defense was really flying around and getting to the ball. Turnovers again were the difference in the game.”
The team will have to cut back on mistakes, said Baldwin.
“We are looking forward to playing Carlsbad at home,” he said. “We know what we have to do.”
Key mistakes that hurt the Dawgs were: a fumble on the opening play from scrimmage that led to a Morse touchdown, several dropped passes that would have extended drives or led to scores, a pass that went through a receivers hands that was intercepted for a Morse touchdown, and two penalties in the second half that extended Morse drives that led to scores.
Morse scored first on a 38-yard James Roberts run after a Ramona fumble. The Bulldogs then established their ground game and drove into field goal range but missed an attempt.
The Ramona defense held and the offense then drove for a touchdown. Kirk Kaliszewski scored with 7:29 left in the second period on a 5-yard run. Ali Aparicio added the PAT and the score was tied 7-7.
Ramona drove into field goal range again and Aparicio drilled a 27-yarder to give the Dawgs a 10-7 halftime advantage.
Ramona’s defense played well in the third quarter, but Morse scored on a 70 yard interception return to take a 14-10 lead going into the final 12 minutes.
Two fake punts came into play in the final quarter. A Bulldog drive was halted when a fake punt was unsuccessful. Morse took possession of the ball and took advantage of a penalty that gave them a first down, and then the Tigers successfully pulled off a fake punt that set up a Jamal Anderson 5-yard TD run to give Morse a 21-10 lead with 5:40 left in the game.
Morse scored on a Niko Castro 54-yard touchdown run to put the game out of reach at 27-10 with 1:32 left on the clock.
The Dawgs did not give up. Their passing game came to life and with one second left in the game Hunter McHargue hit Jason Laws with a perfectly thrown 24-yard fade in the end zone. Aparicio added the PAT and the final score was 27-17.
One major area of improvement was the offensive line. McHargue was sacked twice and one of those was a coverage sack. Last week McHargue was sacked 10 times.
Baldwin made a key change in the o-line. He moved Kwayde Miller from left tackle to right guard and the running game improved greatly. Miller, Connor Guasti, Ivan Rodriguez, Luke Papps, Zach Hale, Nich Fitzpatrick and Christian Drews paved the way for 171 rushing yards.
Kaliszewski led the Dawgs with 155 yards on 29 carries. Javier Dominguez added 10 yards and McHargue ran for five on a scramble.
McHargue completed seven of 19 passes with several drops for 105 yards to Kaliszewski (1, 13 yards), Laws (3, 40 yards), Nathan Cherek (1, 11 yards), Elias Jaurequi (1, 4 yards) and Josh Mahaffey (3, 37 yards).
Alec Ghareeb and Jauregui intercepted passes for the Dawg defense. Kaliszewski and Miller recorded sacks on Morse’s elusive Jamal Anderson. Sixteen different Bulldogs recorded tackles during the game.
Daniel Kemp led the team with seven tackles. Dominguez (2), Jauregui (4), Mahaffey (2), Kaliszewski (3), Drews (3), Brawnson Walter (2), T-bone Williams (3), Jureall Simmons (2) and Daniel VanTol (3) had multiple tackles.
Coach Stephon Pace had special praise for Preston Johnson’s play at defensive tackle. Johnson had four big hits on the quarterbacks and a sack. Pace also lauded Josh Mahaffey for stepping in at safety on short notice.
“Our frosh and junior varsity teams are off to a great start,” said Baldwin. “Both teams are 2-0 and are playing very well.”
The Dawgs host Carlsbad Friday. The junior varsity game kickoff is at 4:30 p.m. and the varsity is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.