Going into the game Friday night at Rio Hondo Prep, the first-year head coach said his team was going to have their hands full. Pitted against a high-powered defense after receiving an at-large spot berth out of the Sante Fe League, the Guards (4-7) needed all hands on deck and received good news when starting quarterback Johnathan Porter was cleared to play after missing five weeks with a broken hand.
Porter and running back Josh Martinez led a Bell-Jeff offense that showed it could move the ball downfield. But the 334 yards of total offense only resulted in one touchdown, a 28-yard strike from Porter to Martinez with 3:44 remaining in the third quarter.
At that point, however, the Kares (9-1) had scored 43 points — 36 in the first half alone.
Fielding a two-dimensional offense its own, Rio Hondo Prep was led on the ground by Nate Tayco’s 167 yards in 10 carries and two touchdowns. Quarterback Colby Rivera kept the Guards’ defense honest with 149 yards and four touchdowns.
Martinez finished his final game at Bell-Jeff with 93 yards in 18 carries. He also caught three balls for 65 yards. Porter completed 11 of 21 passes for 173 yards, and the touchdown.
Porter also two interceptions, with the second taken back 60 yards by Kevin Horton for a Rio Hondo Prep touchdown midway through the second quarter, giving the Kares a 29-0 advantage.
The Guards committed three turnovers, and turned the ball over on downs two times.
Martinez finished the season with just under 1,800 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns. Machuca made it a point to his team during a fourth quarter huddle that he wanted No. 30 for his running back, but it wouldn’t come to fruition.
“We were able to effectively move the ball, because we got Porter back,” Machuca said. “We were able to throw some looks at them, but they’re a powerful team. There’s a reason why they’re reigning champs.”