Bellarmine-Jefferson High suited up just 20 players for its nonleague
football game against Oxnard Santa Clara High at Memorial Field.
Turns out, the Guards only needed one.
Junior running back Derek Leiphardt rushed for 288 yards on eight
carries -- almost all in the first half -- Saturday to lead the
Guards to an impressive 51-22 victory against the visiting Saints.
“He’s an exciting and prolific rusher,” Bell-Jeff Coach Rolando
Aguirre said of Leiphardt. “Once he hits the hole, it’s hard to stop
him -- and we saw that tonight.”
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound junior running back scampered past the
Saints all night -- averaging 36 yards a carry -- more than doubling
his previous week’s work of 130 yards against Compton Centennial.
Leiphardt scored on touchdown runs of 45, 69 and 85 yards.
“I just have to give all the credit to my offensive line for
opening those holes for me, and luckily I was able to find them,”
said Leiphardt, who had just one carry in the second half before
being taken out of the game.
“These two wins are great, but we’re really focusing on our goals
of being tough in league and [making it to] the playoffs.”
The Guards set the tone of the game early, and wasted little time
revving up their potent offense.
On the opening drive, the Guards (2-0), promptly marched down the
field to the Saints’ 14-yard line. Junior running back Joey Diaz
banged his way into the end zone for one of his three touchdowns on
Diaz was the second Guard running back to rush for more than 100
yards Saturday, as he ended with 114 in 16 carries.
With their small numbers, along with some injuries, many of the
Guards had to play both ways against the Saints. Luckily, their
success on offense carried over to the other side of the ball, where
they gave Saints’ quarterback Johnny Ruiz fits in the pocket.
Ruiz threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a
75-yard touchdown by Guard linebacker Brian Huezo.
At defensive back, Leiphardt, Brendon Doyle and Matt Magallon were
three Guards who played both ways. Each had an interception.
“I was never comfortable back there in the pocket. As soon as I
dropped back, there where linemen in my face, and my receivers where
always covered,” Ruiz said.
In an effort to get things going on offense, Santa Clara (0-1)
stacked receivers four wide at times. However, despite their attempt
to mix things up, Bell-Jeff held the Saints scoreless until late in
the third quarter when Ruiz threw a 26-yard fade to receiver Marty
Freel, who caught it for a touchdown.
Santa Clara put up a valiant effort late in the game with two
quick touchdown passes in the final 1:30.
“I’m proud of them; they gritted it out for 60 minutes against
Santa Clara,” Aguirre said.
“Even though we have to play iron-man football since we only have
20 players, I think we can do some special things this year.
The Guards will host Claremont Webb at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in a
nonleague game at Memorial Field.