Marina High football coach Jeff Turley spoke with a measured tone that gave one the sense that he understood Rome wasn’t built in a single day.
All the same, he and the Vikings are working toward a vision of a more successful program with each successive week.
For the second year in a row, Marina has opened with victories in its first two games of the season. Conversely, the Vikings posted two wins as a program between 2013 and 2015.
Blaine Riederich turned eight carries into 123 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Vikings to a 26-15 win over Torrance in a nonleague game Thursday night at Westminster High.
The senior running back added two catches for 41 yards.
Pride is evident in the Vikings’ turnaround, with alumni turning out to support the team. Last week, Jake Arnold was among those in attendance. This week, Kyle Tsu walked the sidelines with his former team.
“We’re rewriting history here,” Riederich said of the Vikings starting the season off nicely again. “It’s fun. It’s been a journey.”
The week ahead should be fun too. Marina will renew its rivalry with Westminster in the Battle at Boswell. Last year, the Vikings won a close contest, 24-20.
“This falls right into our plan,” Turley said. “The whole idea of the schedule is to try to play a team every week that is better than the week before. You’ve got to get better to meet the challenge. We know that Westminster is going to come out ready to go.”
If their play is not a good enough indicator, Riederich made it clear that the Vikings are ready for the matchup with the Lions.
“We’re hyped for that game,” he said. “We’ve been waiting for it since last year. We’re coming in hot. It’s our field now, so we just have to keep it that way. We’ve got the helmet now, so it’s ours until they take it away.”
For the most part, Marina (2-0) handled the one-dimensional offense of Torrance in the first half. The Tartars managed eight first downs, but it’s hard for a running football team to absorb the negative plays that Torrance (0-1) faced.
Riederich had three tackles for a loss in the first half. Nathan O’Rourke added two such plays, as the Vikings racked up six tackles in the backfield by halftime.
The biggest defensive stop was turned in by Ian Cook, who halted the momentum of a hard-charging Kyle Sell at the Vikings’ 2 when the Tartars opted to go for it on a fourth-and-goal scenario with 5:37 left in the second quarter.
Torrance’s offense could not come up with the score, but the Tartars did not come away empty-handed. The pass rush got to Green on the second play of the ensuing drive, and the Vikings quarterback was called for intentional grounding in the end zone. The safety cut Marina’s lead to 13-9.
Marina opened up its passing game for the first time after that. Green connected on passes of 31 yards to Brandon Savea and 36 yards to Riederich. A four-yard rushing score by Riederich sent the Vikings into halftime up 19-9.
Green could not find much traction in the passing game apart from that drive. When a blocked punt by Caden Snyder set the Vikings up with a goal-to-go situation, he took three consecutive sacks.
The Vikings quarterback was pulled for precautionary reasons, as Vishan Few came in to relieve Green.
In short order, Tartars quarterback Nathan Gottlieb found Eric Suarez for his only completion of the evening. Suarez beat the one-on-one coverage, and a cutback move allowed him to get to the end zone for an 80-yard score.
With the score 19-15, Marina fumbled the kickoff, but the defense turned in three negative plays to halt the threat.
Riederich followed with an 88-yard rushing score on the first play of the Vikings’ next drive, and Marina extended its lead to 26-15 with 6:59 remaining.
“We were concerned because he wasn’t reacting quick, so just to be safe, we decided that we better switch it up,” Turley said of Green’s absence in the fourth quarter. “We let the trainer take a look at him. She thinks it’s mainly that he just got dehydrated.”
“We didn’t expect them to put up that touchdown real quick and make it interesting, but it was just getting him a little rest. When Blaine broke that one for a touchdown, I was able to just keep him out.”
Savea also went out with cramps after making a reception. The senior receiver said he would be ready for next week’s game against Westminster.
Marina 26, Torrance 15
Torrance…….7 2 0 6 — 15
Marina……....13 6 0 7 — 26
Mar — Savea 8 pass from Green (Stitt kick failed), 8:15.
Tor — Chambers 45 run (Solis kick), 5:43.
Mar — Green 1 run (Stitt kick), 1:18.
Tor — Safety (int. grounding in end zone), 5:26.
Mar — Riederich 4 run (Green run failed), 2:06.
Tor — Suarez 80 pass from Gottlieb (Solis kick failed), 10:01.
Mar — Riederich 88 run (Stitt kick), 6:59.
Tor — Sell, 10-50.
Mar — Riederich, 8-123, 2 TDs.
Tor — Gottlieb, 1-2-0, 80, 1 TD.
Mar — Green, 6-9-1, 112, 1 TD.
Tor — Suarez, 1-80, TD.
Mar — Savea, 3-50, 1 TD.