By Ray Hamill — The good news for the Eureka Loggers is that they cruised to their seventh straight win on Saturday night.
The bad news is there were some familiar problems evident, the sort of recurring problems that could yet derail this team’s true ambitions.
And the sort of problems the coaching staff and players would like to have seen cleared up by now.
Silly penalties and fumbles, in particular, have been a season-long concern for Eureka, and gives them plenty to work on during next weekend’s bye.
Despite the concerns, it was another dominating performance by the Loggers, who ran out to a comfortable 34-0 win over visiting Livermore at Albee Stadium.
“Defensively, we shut them out, which is good, but we didn’t play up to our potential,” Eureka head coach Jason White said. “(The players) were all upset with themselves. It was like we lost the game. And a lot of that is we have high expectations.”
The Loggers were never in any danger of losing this one, but this is a group of veteran players who know there will be no room for error down the road if they want to fulfill their playoff ambitions.
McLean switch pays off
Eureka dominated both sides of the ball early on, scoring on their opening four possessions to take a commanding 27-0 lead into the interval.
The highlight of the night came on the defensive side of the ball, when senior tackle Ryan McLean intercepted a pass at the 12-yard line and ran into the end zone for a 20-0 Eureka lead with two minutes remaining in the first quarter.
McLean caught the hard-thrown ball at close range and somehow held onto it.
“He’s got a motor in him,” White said of McLean, who had a big tackle for a loss on the ensuing drive as well.
The senior made the switch from end to tackle this week, a move initiated by defensive line coach Marcus Coleman, and a move that paid immediate dividends.
Dunn impresses early
The visitors had little luck driving the ball, with only two first downs in the opening two quarters, with one of them coming on a Eureka penalty.
Two of their opening three drives, in fact, ended with turnovers.
In addition to McLean’s grab, on the previous possession Eureka junior linebacker Jack Hill stripped the ball for teammate Lamarie Dunn to recover.
The takeaway set up a nine-play scoring drive capped by a 10-yard TD throw from quarterback Cruz Montana to tight end Tyce Mullins.
Receiver Tony Barreno had a spectacular catch on the drive that was called back because of off-setting penalties.
Earlier, on the Loggers’ opening possession of the game, Montana capped an eight-play, 65-yard drive with a six-yard TD toss to Alex Miller.
Dunn got the majority of carries early in the game, and was productive from the get-go, with a pair of big first-down runs on the opening drive.
“He’s kind of one of our main leaders on the team, and he really holds the guys to high standards at practice, and he never has a bad practice,” White said of Dunn. “And coach (Garett) Montana decided to give him a lot of the carries early on.
“He was very effective any time we gave him the ball.”
Isley Tulmau also had a big 24-yard gain as the Loggers set the tone early.
After seven straight runs to start the game, however, they caught the visitors off-guard with the play action toss to Miller at the back of the end zone.
Barreno added the fourth TD of the half on a 35-yard reception from Montana, the QB’s third of the half.
Trevor Bell closed out the scoring with the only second-half touchdown on a 40-yard scramble early in the fourth quarter.
Robert Weir also had a couple of big runs on the second scoring drive, carrying several would-be tacklers for several extra yards after contact.
The Loggers open the Big 4 in two weeks at home to St. Bernard’s.
They are looking to become the first repeat champions since they last did it in 2010.