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Leiphardt carries load for Guards

Jose Balderas

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.

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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

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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,”

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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

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banged his way into the end zone for one of his three touchdowns on

the night.

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.


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