It was back to reality for the Marina High School football team Friday night. No more of this lounging in the sand and sun of Waikiki, working more on tans than blocks and tackles.
The Vikings opened their 1985 season a week early by visiting Hawaii and playing St. Louis High School of Honolulu to a 9-9 tie. They made a nice little vacation out of it. A good time was had by all. The football game wasn’t bad, either.
The vacation ended abruptly. Marina spent the past week in preparation for Esperanza, the Southern Conference runner-up in 1984, and the time for R&R; was over. It was time to rediscover mainland football.
What transpired didn’t exactly leave Marina Coach Dave Thompson with a case of post-vacation blues. Thompson watched his team compile 266 yards in offense and limit Esperanza to a third-quarter touchdown en route to a 21-7 win in front of 3,200 spectators in Westminster Stadium.
Marina quarterback Rick Vanderriet , playing in only his second football game, completed just four passes, but two went for long touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Steve Jennings beat Esperanza defensive back Don Herrick on identical plays for touchdown receptions of 46 and 65 yards to account for the margin of victory.
Jennings’ first score came with 9:01 left in the third quarter. After Vanderriet had scrambled for a 14-yard gain to the Esperanza 46, he lofted a long pass to Jennings, who leaped over Herrick near the 10 and went into the end zone untouched. Ben Lefrancois’ conversion kick gave the Vikings a 14-0 lead.
Esperanza cut the Marina lead to 14-7 with 3:09 left in the third quarter when junior running back Mike Miscione spun off tacklers at the Viking five-yard line and rolled into the end zone to complete an 11-yard scoring pass from quarterback Greg Beckman. Beckman set up the score on a 39-yard scramble to the Marina 27.
Marina defensive back Bill Craft blocked an Esperanza field-goal attempt to set up Jennings’ next touchdown. Craft’s block gave the Vikings the ball at their 20, and Vanderriet connected with Jennings on a 65-yard scoring pass two plays later.
Marina’s other touchdown came on a 7-yard run by Mike Stafford with 3:01 left in the first half. It was set up when Beckman mishandled a handoff and linebacker Preston Hayslette recovered the loose ball for the Vikings on the Esperanza 27. Vanderriet narrowly escaped a sack for a nine-yard gain on third-and-eight to keep the drive going, and, five plays later, Stafford scored on a slant off right tackle.
Vanderriet passed for just 42 yards in the tie with St. Louis, and Jennings went without a reception.
“We barely put the ball in the air at all,” Jennings said. “We were real conservative.”
Marina threw only nine passes against the Aztecs, but the results were much more productive.
“It’s nice to throw the deep ball,” Thompson said. “It makes you look like you really racked up the offense.
“This ought to really help Ricky’s confidence. On one of those long passes, there was (a defender) coming right at him and he stood right in there and got it off.”
Thompson had confidence in his defense before the season began, and Friday’s performance served to reaffirm his faith. Te Vikings were able to contain quarterback Greg Beckman and force five Aztec turnovers to give Vanderriet and the offense good field position throughout the game.
Beckman, who passed for more than 2,000 yards last season, completed 11-of-22 passes for 95 yards and was intercepted 3 times. He was constantly trying to escape an aggressive Marina defensive line, led by nose guard Ty Youngblood.
“He was everywhere last week, too,” Thompson said of Youngblood. “The defensive front really played well.”
The Marina pass rush led to interceptions by Keith Laszlo, Matt Matay and Craft. Craft’s came midway through the fourth quarter. The 6-foot, 190-pound senior, who had eight interceptions last season, returned the ball to the Esperanza 22, but Stafford fumbled three plays later and Marina was unable to add to its lead.
That wasn’t enough to spoil Marina’s return to reality.