MEMORIAL FIELD — In many ways, it was a nightmare start to the season for the Bellarmine-Jefferson High football team.
Turnovers, a sprinkling of penalties, an offense breathing on life support at times and a quarterback struggling with a new game plan plagued the frustrated Guards in their season opener Saturday night against Saddleback Valley Christian.
"We did about everything in mistakes," Bell-Jeff Coach Rolando Aguirre said.
As if that wasn't enough, Bell-Jeff had to painfully watch as Joshua Martinez, a team leader at running back and cornerback, was carefully lifted onto a portable stretcher, then carpooled off Memorial Field after being violently taken down by a horse-collar tackle during the game's final two minutes.
But through all the mounting adversity arriving from multiple angles, Bell-Jeff found a way to grind out a climatic 14-7 nonleague win, which was highlighted by the heroics of an unlikely playmaker.
Quarterback Chris Issakanian started the game for the Guards, but quickly struggled to execute their shotgun passing offense. He finished just two of eight for 23 yards, and had an interception and fumble.