By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
PASADENA – It’s supposed to be tackle football, but what Monrovia High School witnessed in its Rio Hondo League opener against Blair on Thursday night at Muir High was more like touch football. Only the Wildcats were never touched the entire first quarter.
The first five times Monrovia (4-2 overall) had the ball, the Wildcats scored untouched en route to a 57-0 victory. The entire second half was played with a running clock.
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“It could have been much worse than this, but we didn’t want to do that,” Monrovia quarterback Nick Bueno said.
“I don’t know,” Wildcats coach Randy Maddox said about what the final score might have been.
The first time Blair (2-4 overall) tackled a Monrovia player, the Wildcats already had a 37-0 lead. Antavion Allen came from behind to nab Bueno on a 22-yard run – the only time in the game Bueno didn’t score while carrying the ball.
Monrovia scored on the next play, though, Christian Blanco going 18 yards – and he was only touched because he ran up the middle.
“If everyone does their job, I knew we would end up in the end zone,” Bueno said.
“But I didn’t expect all that. Everyone was just doing their job. The line did a great job. We did not come here taking it easy on anyone. We came in doing what we needed to do.”
That was essentially it for the Wildcats starters. Sophomore George Frazier came in at quarterback. He had a potential touchdown dropped on his second play, and for the first time in the game Monrovia came away without scoring points; their field-goal attempt by Mason Bryant was blocked.
If the starters had remained, and if there had been no running clock, a league scoring record certainly would’ve been within reach.
“This was the message last week,” Maddox said. “It’s a new season. We start 0-0. We’re getting ready for Rio Hondo League play and for our postseason play. What happened in preseason is over. We’re working each week to get better.”
It was the Wildcats’ 13th consecutive league victory and the Vikings’ sixth consecutive league loss. Blair has been shut out for three consecutive games.
The Vikings were without head coach Gary Parks, who’s in Texas tending to his ill mother. The Vikings were run by committee.
“We just have to live for another day,” assistant coach Keith Alex said. “It’s not as consoling as they’d like it to be, but it’s life. You’re going to have those valleys. We’re in the valley and we just have to climb up.”
On Monrovia’s first play from scrimmage, Jay Henderson took a reverse and went 65 yards untouched for a touchdown. Bueno then ran a draw play 58 yards untouched for a TD.
Zach El’Radi blocked a Richard Bagnerise punt, and Bueno hit a wide-open Anthony Craft on a 40-yard TD pass.
The Wildcats then got their second consecutive blocked punt, Kenny Machi’s block of a Bagnerise kick sending the ball out of the end zone for a 23-0 lead with 4:42 left in the opening quarter.
Bueno then ran the option 63 yards untouched 26 seconds later, then hit Luke Williams on a reverse screen. He went 33 yards for the final untouched TD.
Bueno was moved to flanker when Frazier entered the game and caught a 35-yard TD pass – untouched, of course – for a 50-0 lead with 3:16 left in the half.
“We came out, executed and did what we needed to do,” Maddox said. “Our offense looked good, our defense played well. We just worked to get better each week.”
Bueno rushed for 153 yards and two TDs, completed both of his passes for TDs and a total of 73 yards, and caught that 35-yard TD pass.
Sophomore Cade Shultz scored the lone points in the second half on a 20-yard run.
The Wildcats ran only 22 plays in the game. Monrovia rushed for 313 yards and averaged 17.4 yards per carry.
Blair didn’t get its first first down until the second half. The Vikings were held to 12 yards rushing and 16 total yards.