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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

Bell-Jeff took a 6-0 advantage into intermission.

On the first possession of the third quarter, however, Saddleback Valley battled back.

Quarterback Ryan Bialobreski threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to running back Curran John, who leaked out of the backfield, reeled in the football and exploded through the Guards' secondary. Brandon Castle kicked the extra point through for the Warriors, who took a 7-6 lead.

With just 5:07 remaining in the game, Karalis' fourth-down magic struck again. This time, Bell-Jeff faced a fourth-and-11 situation from the Saddleback Valley 22-yard line.

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Aguirre called a timeout to dial up the play for his team. The instructions were simple.

"What happened was I told them, 'If we don't get this, we're really going to be in trouble because time is running out,'" Aguirre recounted. "I said, 'Look men, it's fourth down. We're going to go for it. This is what we're going to do: Johnny, you're just going to drop straight back and we're going to send Micah [Shirley] on a corner pattern — they can't guard it."

Out of the double-wing formation, Karalis faked a handoff toward the right side, stepped back and delivered the ball to Shirley, who broke left. Shirley caught the pass, shed a tackler and headed into the endzone for the game-deciding score.

"He doesn't get rattled. He plays hard," Aguirre said of Karalis. "He doesn't get caught in the heat of the moment and he just played the game."

Karalis said: "I just didn't want to choke or anything. I just took a step back and bulleted it to Micah."

He believed the Warriors were caught off guard by the final scoring play call.

Bell-Jeff went back up, 12-7.

Martinez, who also had an interception in the first quarter, ran in the two-point conversion, putting the Guards up, 14-7, with 4:55 to go.

Shirley had 13 carries for 71 yards, along with two receptions for 22 yards.

Martinez' injury occurred on the final possession of the game, when he rushed for 27 yards on a toss-sweep, but was brought down by the collar from behind.

"I don't teach that to any of my kids," Aguirre vented. "It happens."

Aguirre said Martinez was responsive and appeared to be OK, but he was taken to a local hospital. The coach confirmed Tuesday that Martinez broke his leg and has already had surgery and four pins inserted into his leg.

"A victory doesn't mean much because of this. You'd kind of rather lose it if he wasn't hurt," Aguirre said. "It's a real big loss for us."

Bell-Jeff linebacker Robert Gomez intercepted quarterback Brandon Camarillo-Towles, which helped set up the Guards' first touchdown. Robert Guevara blocked a running punt attempt by Castle.

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