The Los Osos High School football team picked the perfect moment to reach its lowest point of the season.
One week before the games start to matter.
Los Osos’ demoralizing 52-7 loss to Covina Charter Oak on Sept. 28 was followed a week later by another lopsided score. But the Grizzlies’ 44-7 victory over Etiwanda on Friday was the first game of the season with playoff implications. Los Osos is 1-0 in the Baseline League.
“That game against Charter Oak really left us feeling bad,” Los Osos coach Tom Martinez said. “I think it really had the team wondering where we would go from there. Getting that win over Etiwanda really got our psyche back where we need it to be. I think we almost needed that win considering all the things that had gone wrong.”
The 45-point loss, Los Osos’ third consecutive defeat after beginning the season with two wins, wasn’t entirely as it appeared. Grizzlies quarterback Stephen Johnson was suspended for the game because of an ejection the previous week for something he said to an official that was misunderstood, according to Martinez.
“There was a play on the sideline where the official thought (Johnson) said something that he didn’t,” Martinez said. “The guys knew it was going to be different without Stephen, but I don’t think that really registered once they got out there. We didn’t expect things to go the way they did, even without him.”
With receiver Victor Bolden at quarterback, Los Osos was forced to run its wildcat offense most of the game but finished with less than 90 yards of offense.
Johnson’s numbers Friday – he finished 10-of-17 passing for 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns – would indicate he wasn’t an overwhelming factor against Etiwanda. His mere presence, however, created a significantly different atmosphere in the locker room, according to Martinez.
Bolden had 106 yards of offense one week after his 90-yard kickoff return was the only touchdown for Los Osos against a Charter Oak team that only enhanced its standing with a 41-13 victory over Chino Hills on Friday in its league opener.
The player responsible for the most points on Friday was running back Iszaia Cordero, who scored three touchdowns after three weeks of limitations with an ankle injury. The junior was 100 percent for the first time since a Sept. 6 loss to Redlands.
The Grizzlies’ 14-10 loss on a late touchdown to a Redlands team ranked No. 9 in the CIF-SS Inland Division that has won five in a row didn’t exactly raise red flags at the time.
But a close game until the fourth quarter turned into a 54-33 loss to Norco prior to the Charter Oak debacle. Los Osos was reeling heading into a league matchup that decided the final playoff spot each of the last two seasons.
“With the bye mixed in there, it had been four weeks since we had won a football game,” Martinez said. “That’s a long time to go without getting to feel what it’s like to win. We needed this one.”