Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High School will likely need all the momentum it gained from its come-from-behind victory against Bell Gardens to defeat St. Bernard in a Del Rey League football opener Friday night.
The 2-1 Cardinals, fresh off their 21-20 win over the Lancers, travel to Playa Del Rey to face a St. Bernard team that is off to an impressive 4-0 start.
The Vikings’ success comes as no surprise to Cantwell Coach Kim Taylor.
“They’ve got good team speed and a lot of weapons,” he said. “They like to spread it on offense and use four-receiver sets. It’s going to be a tough game for us.”
The Cardinals will attempt to play ball control and use their running game to keep St. Bernard’s offense off the field. They are hoping to get another big night from running back Jared Gonzales, who rushed for 205 yards on 29 carries against Bell Gardens last Friday.
While Cantwell left the field looking forward to its league-opening game with St. Bernard, Bell Gardens wondered what it has to do to win a game. The Lancers dropped to 0-3 after losing by a point for the second consecutive week.
“It’s frustrating,” Bell Gardens Coach Dave Ramos said. “We’ve got to learn how to finish games.”
Ramos noted that his team is rebuilding with nine new starters on offense and seven on defense.
“I knew we would struggle at the outset, but it’s our special teams’ play that is hurting us,” he said. “We’ve missed two field goals right before halftime twice, we missed an extra point and we had a kickoff returned for a touchdown, and have given up two other long kick returns.
“We don’t have a lot of depth, so we’re working as many young players into special teams,” he added. “Hopefully we’ll get it corrected by the time we get to league.”
Bell Gardens plays San Marino (2-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Bell Gardens as the Lancers play their first home game of the season.
“It’s going to be nice not to have to get on a bus this Friday and not wait for a long signal at the corner of Garfield and Gage,” Ramos said. “We’re going to feel more comfortable being in our own locker room for a change.”
Last Friday, James Salazar’s 23-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Albert Lara gave Bell Gardens a 20-14 lead over Cantwell with 2:40 remaining in the fourth quarter.
But Cantwell’s Corey Collins returned the ensuing kickoff to the Cardinals’ 47 yard line. Four runs by Gonzales and two pass receptions by Collins set up Gonzales’ winning touchdown run with 21 seconds left.
After a 5-yard penalty, Steven Jimenez kicked the extra point to give Cantwell the lead.
Collins finished the game with nine receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Timothy Walsh completed 12 of 21 passes for 174 yards.