YOU ARE HERE: Burbank HomeCollections

Bell-Jeff survives opener

FOOTBALL: Although they lost one of their key players to injury, Guards regroup and are able to start the season with a 14-7 nonleague victory.

September 07, 2010|By Jeremy Curtis, Special to the Leader
(Cheryl A. Guerrero…)

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.


"In the heat of the moment, it was a little too much for him," Aguirre said if his quarterback, who was getting his first taste as a starter. "Sometimes that happens. He's a tremendous kid. He did tremendous during the summer in passing. We destroyed teams."

With the game still scoreless in the second quarter, Aguirre scrapped the passing spread offense in favor of a double-wing, two tailback, run-heavy scheme.

"I hadn't used the double wing since last year," he said. "I don't' even practice it, but I've always done it."

Backup Johnny Karalis was handed the quarterbacking duties for Bell-Jeff. Karalis is a 5-foot-11, 145-pound sophomore who made his first appearance as a signalcaller.

"We really didn't know what quarterback we were going to use today," Karalis said.

Though he attempted just three passes, good for 40 yards, two tosses went for touchdowns. Both occurred on critical fourth-down plays.

"I was nervous before the game," Karalis admitted. "During the game, I was just all into it."

His first scoring pass was on a fourth-down-and-five play from the Saddleback Valley 18-yard line. Karalis found Martinez streaking into the right side of the end zone on a corner pattern with just 2:10 to go before halftime.

The ensuing extra point attempt from placekicker David Bustillos was booted wide left.

Burbank Leader Articles Burbank Leader Articles