Monday’s season opening JV football game between Jefferson and St. Pius came down to one play late in the fourth quarter. On fourth down, the Lancers needed two yards to keep the drive alive deep in Blue Jay territory. They got that and more, as they scored the eventual game-winning touchdown that would lead to a 22-14 St. Pius victory. “We just didn’t have the muscle to stop them,” Jefferson coach Chris Casey said.
But for the majority of the game, the teams battled it out. “It was a really hard fought game,” Coach Casey noted. A Mikey Frisk touchdown opened the scoring, but the Lancers countered with a TD and two-point conversion. At halftime, the home-standing Lancers were up 8-6.
But Jefferson came out and took the lead when quarterback Gavin Theodoro ran one in. Karter Dowd scored the two-point conversion on a pitch option to put the Blue Jays up 14-8. However, a St. Pius punt return knotted the score at 14-14 before the decisive Lancers score late in the game.
Casey said several players had outstanding games. “Tye Polston had an interception late in the first half, and did a good job of returning and making catches. He had at least five catches on the night. Theodoro ran like a madman and had 80 plus yards, as did Dowd.”
Several players shared their perspectives on the game:
Polston: “Honestly, I think some positive things were that we played hard throughout the whole game. At certain key times in the game, players would, I guess you could say, took a play off. Other than that, I think that defensively we did pretty good. We had good coverage. One thing I will say though, is that we need to work on wrapping up when we go to tackle. Offensively, I think that we did all right. We could have done a lot better up front with our linemen. They just weren’t getting any push, so our running backs couldn’t get through or find a hole.”
Theodoro: “I think that some positives was that we never gave up. Also, I think that we played hard all four quarters. I think some negatives about the game was that we got tired as a team after halftime. Also, I think that a majority of the team took some plays off. I think that next time we play them, we are going to be more prepared and ready to show them how much better we are going to be.”
Frisk: “It was a good game…both teams battled hard, and we fought all four quarters. We had some good drives going, but we took some plays off, and that can’t happen. It unfortunately lost us the game. But we will be better conditioned in week four and will be better prepared for Pius.”
Dowd: “We just missed on some opportunities to succeed. I would say.”
Coach Casey sees a really young team where many players played their first high school and “learned what high school football is all about.” Prior to the game, this is how he previewed his squad.
Who do you see as being your top and key athletes this season?
“One of our most key athletes is going to be Gavin Theodoro. He played quarterback for us at the tail end of the season last year and did a great job stepping up when Drew Breeze got called up to the varsity. Last year, before Drew got called up, Gavin was splitting time in practice as a running back and at QB. This year he has been getting exclusively QB reps at practice, which should put him in a much better position to lead our offense. So far in practice, he has done a great job of getting our young guys lined up and helping them remember their route combinations; exactly what you want out of that leadership position. Other big players for us this year are going to be Tye Polston, Dylan Travica, Bryce Shepard, Brady Sadler, and Kayden Rundel, some returning players who will end up getting some varsity special teams action at times.”
What are your expectations for the team this season?
“This season, I expect us to be efficient in all phases of the game. We are always extremely young at the JV level due to our small school status, so we typically consist of mostly freshmen. I have been very impressed by what these young men have been able to retain from their junior high playing days..quite a feat considering the last game they played was in October. This retention is a testament to their commitment to learning, as well as to Coach Paul Lipp, our junior high head coach. These youngsters have also done a great job at learning more advanced plays and defensive concepts, which makes me confident that we will hopefully have less youthful, shoot-yourself-in-the-foot mistakes.”
What are the strengths of this team, and what aspects do you think will be a work in progress?
“As mentioned before, their ability to learn and retain the things we teach them in practice helps them tremendously. There will be mistakes, that’s just part of the game. I do believe that we have some effective leaders at the JV level who can help rally the troops when things get tough. I believe that our freshmen will have to get used to the speed and physicality of the game at this level, just as all freshman do. Our freshman group is pretty large physically, so I believe that will be an adjustment we can make in stride.”
“I am confident in our returners’ abilities, but I am excited to see what our freshman class is capable of. Since I teach seventh grade science, I have known these kids since they were in seventh grade, and one of the most rewarding parts of my job is to watch these guys grow into young men. They were fun to watch at the junior high level because they had some grittiness to them. I think the addition of Kole Williams and Max Schnitzler in our already pretty darn good secondary may make us tough to throw the ball against.”
The team will meet North County at home on Tuesday. Kickoff is at 6:00 p.m.