By Ray Hamill — The Corsairs dropped their season opener against Monterey Peninsula College at the Redwood Bowl on Saturday afternoon, falling 41-34 in an entertaining affair.
The loss was obviously a disappointing one for Redwoods, but the Corsairs played a perennial powerhouse program very close, and there were several positives to take from the game.
Head coach Frank Borba was optimistic coming into the season that he has plenty of quality throughout his lineup and expects his team to be competitive this fall.
Whether that’s enough for the Corsairs to post their first winning season dating all the way back to 2001 remains to be seen, but there are reasons to believe this year’s team can do just that.
1 — Lucero lights up the scoreboard
It wasn’t just that new quarterback Brody Lucero passed for more than 500 yards and five touchdowns in Saturday’s loss, it was the manner in which he did so.
Lucero, who red-shirted a year ago, looks like a good find for the Corsairs and the right fit to lead a dynamic passing attack.
His performance wasn’t without flaws — three picks, two of them probably on him, over-throwing and under-throwing some passes, and a tendency to hold onto the ball too long leading to five sacks.
But for a debut performance against a powerhouse opponent, it offered a lot of positives.
Lucero completed 24-of-47 passes for 509 yards and the five TDs.
Just as importantly, he displayed the ability to make the big play to continually keep his team in contention, with touchdown throws of 61, 83 and 56 yards.
CR will be disappointed to lose the opener, but the Corsairs should feel equally excited about the quarterback position going forward.
Lucero will only get better.
Red-zone letdowns prove costly for dynamic Corsairs — Too many red-zone breakdowns cost the Corsairs on Saturday afternoon, as they dropped their season opener, 41-34, to Monterey Peninsula College at the Redwood Bowl.
2 — Big play receivers announce their presence
Lucero’s impressive stats were helped by the presence of a pair of big-time receivers, who left their mark on the game.
St. Bernard’s grad Micha Fontenot Cornely and Zach Loveland, out of Las Vegas, each had a huge game, accounting for 400 yards and four touchdowns between them.
Fontenot-Cornely (3 catches for 158 yards) had touchdown receptions of 61 and 83 yards, keeping the Corsairs in the game early on.
When the visitors finally found a way to limit his big-play ability, Loveland stepped up, finishing with 10 catches for 242 yards.
Angelo Flores and Marcus Finney are each also legitimate receiving threats for CR, giving the freshman QB plenty of options.
3 — Hicks shows promise in debut
The CR running game was admittedly ineffectual against the Lobos, with the Corsairs rushing for a combined 32 net yards on 30 carries.
The offensive line, which did such a good job allowing Lucero time to throw the ball, was ineffective opening holes for the ground attack against a powerful Lobos D-line.
One bright spot, however, was the play of running back Elijah Hicks.
The freshman, also out of Las Vegas, finished with 62 yards on 19 carries, displaying an ability to break tackles, while also adding 19 yards on three receptions.
4 — Defensive stands keep Corsairs in the game
First up, the obvious flaw in the Corsairs performance was giving up 41 points and 469 yards.
There were, however, several bright spots in that defensive performance, especially considering the quality of the opposition.
CR came away with three fumble recoveries and five sacks, as well as making several big defensive stands.
In particular, Tyrique Bell (pictured left) had a pair of fumble recoveries and displayed a keen nose for the ball and the big play, with a team-high two tackles for a loss.
Fatu Tuitasi also had a fumble recovery, while Del Norte’s Levi Scribner and returning defensive stalwart Teejay Tome each had a forced fumble.
Another local standout, St. Bernard’s Damian Natt had a team-high two pass break-ups, while the sacks were split between Natt, Bell, Tome, Chriss Giacomozzi, Dakota Moore, Josiah Viaolo and Jordan Randall.
5 — Kicking help on the way
The Corsairs lacked an effective kicking game on Saturday, and while that did not ultimately cost them the game, it was a notable problem nonetheless.
The home team missed a pair of PATs after its opening two touchdowns, and after that, the option of a field goal was taken off the board on deep drives into Lobos territory.
On one such occasion midway through the third quarter, a short field goal attempt could have given the Corsairs the lead, but they were forced to go for it on fourth down and coughed up possession.
The good news is that kicking help is on the way, even if it won’t come for another week.
Dual athlete Roberto Ortiz is a freshman out of Dixon High School and someone the coaching staff thinks very highly of, and someone they believe will give them a legitimate weapon on special teams.
Ortiz, however, also plays soccer for Redwoods and will be unavailable to the football team for one more week.