One year removed from earning only its third Central Coast Section playoff berth, the Gunn High football team is taking steps for a repeat. The Titans got their 2010 season off to a good start with a 39-0 nonleague victory over host Yerba Buena on Friday night in San Jose.
Despite the lopsided victory, at least one Gunn player wasn't satisfied with how his team acquired the triumph.
"We have to play better," said Matt Mertz. "We can't play like we did tonight and expect to do well this year."
Gunn will have that opportunity to get better, taking a week off before returning on Sept. 17 for its home opener against Burlingame at 3:30 p.m.
The Titans did play well in the opening half, during which they charged out to a 36-0 lead. The second half was a different story as Gunn made numerous mental mistakes.
"We did a lot of things well," said Gunn coach Bob Sykes. "But we also have a lot of work to do. We're going to have to really improve for our game against Burlingame in two weeks."
The areas of improvement that Mertz and Sykes were referring to was the play in the second half that saw three long touchdowns over two drives wiped out by mental penalties.
After Dekel Sherman connected on a 39-yard field goal early in the third quarter to make the score 39-0, Josh Jackson returned a punt 40 yards for an apparent score after reversing his field and outrunning all of his pursuers. Unfortunately for Jackson, as he was crossing the goal line, a Titan player decided to get into a scuffle at midfield -- thus negating the touchdown.
With the ball at the Gunn 45, JJ Strand took the ball around the right side and just blasted over two defenders – running down the sidelines for a touchdown. However, a Gunn lineman trailing the play by 15 yards was guilty of pushing a Yerba Buena player in the back and that touchdown was called back.
In the fourth quarter, Mertz had a 48-yard run up the middle for a touchdown called back when a Gunn wide receiver was called for not having his mouth guard in.
Add a fumble inside of Yerba Buena's red zone and it was easy to find areas where Gunn needs to improve.
While the second half had some disappointments, the first half had a lot to be happy about.
Gunn scored the first four times it had the ball and, after fumbling it away at Yerba Buena's nine on its fifth possession, the Titans came right back and scored again in a half that saw all action played in Yerba Buena territory.
The Titans got on the board when, on fourth-and-nine from Yerba Buena's 30, quarterback Anthony Cannon avoided the rush and lofted a perfect pass to a wide open Jackson for the score.
When Yerba Buena attempted to punt on its next possession, Gunn's Travis Breier tackled the punter in the end zone for a safety after a bad snap.
Thanks to great defense by Jim Hinton and Skylar Larson, Gunn was quickly back on offense and Henry Ayala scored on a 25-yard run for a 16-0 lead with 3:43 to go in the first quarter.
In the second quarter Cannon connected with Miles Sturken on a five-yard score, followed by a one-yard run by Mertz and a 35-yard touchdown pass from Cannon to Strnad, in which Strnad made a beautiful spin move at the 30 after catching the pass that left his defender in the dust.
One major highlight of the evening was the kicking of Sherman and Graham Fisher. Both players showed powerful legs on their kicks.