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Things finally click for Guards in win

FOOTBALL: Shirley scores four touchdowns to pace Bell-Jeff to a 39-14 nonleague victory against host Malibu.

September 28, 2010|By Jeremy Curtis, Special to the Leader

MALIBU — With a relatively simple offensive change, an identity was found, drives were sustained and points were put up in droves.

It took four games of experimenting with different formations and players switching positions, but in Saturday's nonleague game at Malibu High, the Bellarmine-Jefferson football team found the answer to their previous anemic offensive woes.

Bell-Jeff coach Rolando Aguirre dropped his double-wing and shotgun sets in favor of a traditional power-I formation package. He moved his versatile game-breaker, Micah Shirley, between wide receiver and running back, put senior Chris Issakanian back at quarterback, Robert Guevara at fullback and used senior running back Mario Marquez to spell Shirley.


What the moves accumulated to was a 39-14 win over Malibu, in what turned out to be the Guards' finest offensive showing of the season.

"I think the big transition here was actually to run the I," Aguirre said. "I'd been stopping some of my receivers with the double-wing and it just wasn't clicking. The I is our offense. We're going to run it. We're going to master it."

While the entire Bell-Jeff (2-2) offense rolled with the new game plan, Shirley stood out above the rest, netting four total touchdowns. He carried the ball just three times, but gained 92 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown burst down the right sideline late in the third quarter.

Shirley recorded five receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns. Adding to his offensive dominance, Shirley made two interceptions and had a fumble recovery where he ripped the ball out of the hands of the Shark's Nathan Dowler on a reverse run, then returned it 43 yards for a touchdown.

"Micah was in that zone today," Aguirre said. "He wanted this bad. Once we get on top, there's no stopping Micah."

"I hate losing," Shirley said. "Losing two in a row was just hard. We really needed a win before we go into league [play]."

Issakanian said he missed the last game for the Guards, a 15-12 nonleague home loss to Rosamond, for a non-football related reason. Previously, he had appeared for Bell-Jeff in its shotgun spread offense, which struggled.

However, under center in the I-formation, Issakanian found his comfort zone and stride as a passer. Against Malibu (1-3), he finished nine of 12 for 133 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Issakanian started the game a perfect five for five.

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