Sacred Heart Prep quarterback Thomas Wine spent a lot of time on the run on a warm summer day in Atherton Saturday.
Wine scrambled, spun, rolled, whatever it took to escape pressure from big, bad San Benito of Hollister. The out-sized Gators left everything out on the field in a 30-12 defeat to the Balers.
SHP (0-1) was handcuffed before the game even started when star running back Isoa Moimoi was sidelined due to a hamstring injury suffered Monday.
Moimoi's hard-nosed running style would have helped move the chains and, thus, keep the ball away from the wing-t offense of San Benito, one which features bruising back Hunter Nye.
SHP coach Peter Lavorato was proud of his team. The Gators had a chance to cut the Balers' lead to 23-20 with over four minutes remaining in the game.
“San Benito is tough,” Lavorato said. “They're a big school. You have to play good teams. It's good for us.”
Taking the ball at his own 20-yard line, Wine threw a deep out to Dominic Cacchione, who made a nice run-after-catch for a 32-yard gain. Aided by a personal foul call on the Balers, SHP got the ball down to the 4-yard line with four downs to punch it in, trailing 23-12.
The Gators gained two yards on two plays, setting up a third-and-goal at the 2. Wine rolled to his right before tossing one toward the end zone. Balers cornerback Isaac Regalado picked it off, taking it the length of the field for a 100-yard TD interception return.
Lavorato took the blame for the play-call.
“I called a pass play and we, probably, should have ran the ball,” Lavorato said.
As for Wine, he fared well against a physical defense, completing 12 of 25 passes for 183 yards, giving up a pair of picks.
Wine threw a gorgeous ball to Cacchione for a 39-yard TD pass with 1:19 left in the first quarter. The Gators trailed 7-6 after a bad snap on the PAT.
“I felt good about Thomas,” Lavorato said. “He was, probably, nervous. It was his first time playing quarterback in a varsity football game. He's a great kid and a great athlete. There were some things that happened where he could have made a different choice.”
The Gators defense came up with three fumble recoveries – one each by Kyle Stalder, Schafer Kraemer and Angelo Tonas.
Stalder, a two-way lineman, had his hands full on defense trying to haul down the rough-and-tumble Nye, who rushed for 130 yards on 15 carries, most coming in the first half.
Nye broke off a 36-yard gallop on the Balers' first series, setting up an 8-yard TD pass from Hunter Raquet to Zack Alnas. Nye is considered the most powerful back to come out of San Benito, the school that produced former Menlo-Atherton football coach Ben Parks, class of '53.
“No. 9 (Nye) is a darn, good running back,” Stalder said. “He split us a couple of times.”
The Balers padded their lead to 9-6 after a snap went over the head of Wine, who was tackled in the end zone for a safety early in the second period. San Benito got the ensuing kickoff, taking the ball 12-plays, capped by a 5-yard TD run by Nye.
The Gators' balloon was popped after coming out of the locker room at halftime. On the first play of the second half, San Benito's Albert Lopez took a dive up the middle, sifted to his left, then sped away for an 80-yard touchdown.
SHP got a break when defensive pass interference was called on a Wine interception. A personal foul penalty was tacked on, placing the ball at the 50-yard line. Wine hit two straight completions before Garrett Gevello ran for 9 yards.
Wine threw a ball across the middle, snagged nicely by Kevin Tinsley, who took it upfield for a 25-yard gain. Alex Harper bulled his way for 9 yards to the 5-yard line. Gevello ran it in from there.
Cacchione had the catch of the game when he made a one-handed grab on a Wine pass, good for 22 yards to the San Benito 38. Cacchione – resembling last year's star receiver, Nick O'Donnell, while donning O'Donnell's No. 13 jersey - caught six passes for 116 yards.
“We have nine new guys on offense,” Lavorato said. “There is a lot of learning going on. The kids played hard. I'm really proud of these kids.”
“We have a lot of work to do,” Stalder said. “We have a great coaching staff. We're going to get better every single day.”
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