By Dan Gudino
The football team took an emotional 27-3 loss in the first game of the season at Orange Coast College on Saturday.
Lack of production from the offense, missed tackles, inexperience and first game nerves took East Los Angeles College out of the game. A few ELAC players were left in tears after Orange Coast scored 20 unanswered points in the second half.
One of those emotional players was ELAC’s starting quarterback, sophomore Jonathan Santos.
“The defense kept us in it, we (offense) need to put up some points. It’s the little things, little mistakes that kept us out of the game. I need to be a better leader and rally us. I hate to lose,” Santos said.
Santos could not get a rhythm going. The first time starter at the junior college level saw an Orange Coast defense that was physical. Santos took big hits completing less than half of his passes (17 of 35) with an interception and no touchdowns
“I get emotional because I put a lot on myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself. We’re going to fix all of this. It’s only the first game of the season and that’s what it’s used for, little by little, everything will fall into place,” Santos said.
Down 7-0, at the half, ELAC held its own.
Highlights on defense from freshman linebacker Elijah Quarrels, who blasted Orange Coast players with great technique tackles. When he tackled players, his hits were hard. The pads colliding was heard around the stadium.
“It’s a comfortable defense (system) for me to play in. I just go out there and have fun, I just play hard,” Quarrels said.
Quarrels popped the Orange Coast quarterback with a helmet to chest sack in the second quarter to the oohs’ and ahs’ of the crowd. He finished with eight tackles and a sack.
“The hard hitting was developed this off season with coach “Sik” (Strength and Conditioning Coach, Justin Kosik). He’s a tough dude, and his craziness rubs off on you,” Quarrels said.
At the start of the second half, Orange Coast inserted its backup quarterback, sophomore Kody Whitaker. Whitaker instantly led OCC to a 75-yard touchdown drive.
Momentum shifted, and never swung back to the hands of the Huskies.
ELAC’s defense stayed on the field for long periods of time, leading to second and third chances for Orange Coast’s offense. Poor tackling gave a small 5-foot-7 receiver of Orange Coast, freshman Joey Cox three touchdowns catches.
Like last year, the season started with a loss and a brand new coach. New ELAC Head Coach Bobby Godinez consoled his players who showed frustration after the disappointing loss.
“I love that we competed. They were running hard all over the place, but I made some mistakes that maybe cost us. We made some mental errors, but we can fix all that,” Godinez said.
And like last year, quarterback play for the Huskies is in question. ELAC sophomore backup quarterback Levi Wells, made a surprising appearance. Wells playing early in the fourth quarter, with the game still in reach, signaled the race at quarterback has reopened.
“We have to look at quarterback play. We’re always evaluating. No one’s jobs is safe, ever. We really have to look at this tape. Whether it’s us (coaches) just not calling the right play, or poor player execution. It’s hard,” offensive coordinator Art Hoomiratana said.
“We have to do what we do in practice and translate it in a real game situation,” Hoomiratana said.
ELAC gave away 98 yards in penalties and was held to three points, a 37-yard field goal by sophomore Vicente Luis Juan. Sophomore safety Cinwon Whitehead grabbed an interception, while sophomore running back Shaq Shelton led all Huskies in rushing, carrying 11 times for 38 yards.
“Tonight’s play was not indicative of what this team will do and can accomplish,” ELAC Athletic Director Al Cone said.
The Huskies will host Allan Hancock College, Sept. 10 at home, a 4 p.m. kickoff.