LB shuffling before Central Valley game

dwitte@losbanosenterprise.comNovember 2, 2013 

Week 8 may be late in a football season to change horses, but Los Banos High coach Dustin Caropreso felt last Friday was the perfect time to get put Tyler Cicairos in at quarterback.

The change sent previous starter Loggan Pimentel to split tight end and outside linebacker duties with Alec Barcellos. Caraopreso indicated the move was good for both players, and the team as a whole.

“Against a Livingston team that wasn’t that good, I thought it was a perfect time to do it. I think he got some confidence,” Caropreso said. “I think the weight of the world got taken off of Loggan’s shoulders. He played some tight end for us – he’s going to start at tight end this week, because Alec’s going to spend a lot of time on defense. To be honest with you, the kid wants to get his nose dirty playing some linebacker, so it’s a perfect spot for him. And Alec’s going to play some tight end, too.”

Cicairos, who played quarterback on the JV team but has played wide receiver the last two years on the varsity squad, led the Tigers to a 48-0 win over Livingston, but now faces a must-win game against Central Valley and its record-chasing running back Ja’Quan Gardner. Los Banos stands at 5-3 and finishes against CV (4-4) and Pacheco (6-3) – and the Tigers know that 5-5 may not be good enough to secure a playoff spot.

“It’s huge. I mean, for the kids, I think this is bigger than the Central Catholic game four or five weeks ago, whenever it was,” Caropreso said. “You never want to have to go into that last game with more pressure on your shoulders than you need, when it’s a cross-town rivalry, so we’re hoping to come out Friday night and execute on offense, execute on defense, make some special teams plays and come out with a victory.”

Gardner, after running for almost 300 yards last week in the Hawks’ 43-34 loss to Central Catholic now has 5,110 career rushing yards. He needs 31 yards to break the Stanislaus District record for career rushing yards, set nearly a decade ago by Central Catholic’s Louis Bland (5,140). While the Tigers are aware of the record chase, Caropreso said it doesn’t weigh heavily on them.

“You look at the kid’s stats, and I think he’s had 100 or more in every game he’s played in,” Caropreso said. “So the biggest thing with him is he’s going to get his runs, and if he gets out in the open, there’s not too many people – I don’t think there’s anybody in our league that can catch the kid. That’s the way I look at it. We have to make tackles. We can’t let him run around in space, because that’s where he’s good. You give him open space, he’s got a chance to go the distance.”

So LB’s defensive game plan starts with the offense staying on the field and keeping Gardner off the field.

“If we can minimize his touches, then it makes it even harder for him,” Caropreso said. “We talked about that against Central Catholic, and it didn’t happen. We’ll try to minimize the many times he gets the football in his hands and see what happens.”

DP in the ‘W’ column

Dos Palos High got its first football win of the season with Friday’s 40-0 shutout of Tranquillity, behind Izzac Suarez’s five touchdown runs.

Suarez racked up 252 rushing yards, and scored on runs of 33, 17, 21, 95 and 5 yards. Quarterback Noah Croninger added field goals of 39 and 42 yards.

The win pulled the Broncos (1-7, 1-2) out of the West Sierra League basement. Dos Palos hosts Coalinga (2-6, 1-2) tonight, looking to turn its win into a streak.

Gustine falls back to even

Gustine High’s football team dropped back to .500 with a 55-0 loss to undefeated Le Grand last Friday. The Bulldogs held Gustine running back Isaiah Figueroa, a catalyst for much of the Redskins’ success this season, to 41 yards on 17 carries.

Tonight, Gustine (4-4, 3-2 SL) hosts another Southern League contender in Ripon Christian (7-1, 5-0), which boasts its own record-chasing running back in Andrew Brown, who has 1,705 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns so far this year. Brown is also after the district’s high rushing mark, and is 308 yards behind Gardner entering tonight’s game.

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