Frighteningly, it wasn’t the five players with multiple scholarship offers that prompted Marcus Soward to liken the Rancho Cucamonga High School football team to a college program.
The offensive and defensive fronts were the units that inspired the comparison from Miller’s football coach during Rancho Cucamonga’s 45-0 victory over Miller Friday night at Los Osos High School.
Soward, a former defensive back for Arizona State whose brother R.J. starred at USC, has some credibility when it comes to college football.
“As big and fast and strong as they are, they’re like a college team,” Soward said. “The fronts were what impressed me the most. They were some of the best I’ve seen in a long time.”
As for the players who will join the actual collegiate ranks next season, Oregon State-bound receiver Jermel Walker had five receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game with an injury to his left leg early in the second quarter.
The Rancho Cucamonga (3-1) defense featuring four scholarship players, including USC-committed cornerback Chris Hawkins, held Miller to 16 yards in the first half.
The Cougars amassed 302 rushing yards and senior quarterback Adam Friederichsen completed 8 of 11 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as Rancho Cucamonga surged to a 38-0 halftime lead.
“He threw a couple nice deep balls to Jermel, so that was clicking pretty good,” Rancho Cucamonga coach Nick Baiz said of Friederichsen, who transferred from La Costa Canyon last summer. “He’s getting better every week. We hope he keeps improving.”
Rancho Cucamonga’s three victories this season have come by a average margin of 36 points. The Cougars’ lone loss, a one-point defeat to Anaheim Servite Sept. 1, is the only blemish on the schedule. Leading by 13 at the half, the Cougars were shutout in the final two quarters.
They’ve scored 99 points in the eight quarters since.
“Our kids have responded well since then,” Baiz said. “I think (the loss) is going to help us in the long run. I hope it does. That’s going to be determined weeks down the road.”
Rancho Cucamonga visits Riverside North next week before opening Baseline League play with a titanic matchup against Upland Oct. 5.
Miller (1-3) visits an undefeated Oak Hills team next week before a difficult Citrus Belt League opener against Redlands on Oct. 5.
“I’ve been on this side of a few lopsided games before,” Soward said. “You just come back on Monday and put your head down and go to work. You can’t let this get you down.”
Miller hardly had time to look up at the scoreboard before Friederichsen threw an 81-yard touchdown pass to Walker on the Cougars’ second play from scrimmage. After three touchdowns through the air, Khalil Muhammad rushed for his only touchdown of the game. The sophomore finished with 175 yards on 13 carries.
Senior James Robinson, who had 68 yards on seven carries, scored on a 3-yard run to give Rancho Cucamonga a 35-0 lead with 4:36 left in the second quarter.