NORTH HOLLYWOOD — Heading into Bellarmine-Jefferson High’s game against Fairmont Prep, Guards Coach Rolando Aguirre wanted his players to focus on winning the turnover battle.
Last week, the Guards lost their season opener to Flintridge Prep primarily due to crucial turnovers. Aguirre was determined not to let that happen again.
Bell-Jeff dominated Fairmont Prep, 37-8, on Friday night at North Hollywood High, Bell-Jeff’s temporary home turf. The Guards were led by four touchdowns and 218 yards in 11 carries from tailback Joshua Martinez, who also had a drive-stopping interception on defense. Michael Gomez added a fumble return for a touchdown.
And they didn’t turn the ball over.
“We took care of the football tonight,” Aguirre said. “We were tough on offense. We did what we had to do. We didn’t fumble. We didn’t do any crazy things. When you do that, you have a great game. The whole idea is focusing, executing and taking advantage of your opportunities. We did that tonight.”
Bell-Jeff (1-1) established its run game early. The Guards pieced together a seven-play, 61-yard drive, all on the ground. The drive was capped by a 10-yard touchdown run by Martinez to give his team an 8-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter, Martinez sprinted 60 yards for his second trip to the end zone and a 15-0 advantage.
“My blockers, I love them,” Martinez said. “They opened up the holes for me amazingly. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
While his touchdowns were invaluable to the Guards’ attack, Martinez also had a game-changing play on defense. After the Huskies marched down to the Bell-Jeff 10-yard line, Martinez picked off a Bobby Varnadoe pass, killing the visitors’ only sustained drive of the first half.
“It was big,” Aguirre said. “That interception was crucial. It’s a game of momentum. It was an awesome little play by him.”
The Guards’ drive that started with the Martinez interception ended with a Martinez 40-yard touchdown run. That was shortly followed by an Alejandro Marroquin field goal, and Gomez’ 70-yard fumble return to give Bell-Jeff a 31-0 lead at the half.
“He became a workhorse today,” Aguirre said of Martinez. “I wanted Josh to be the guy who takes off. He has the speed to do it. We’re working on it.”
Martinez added his fourth touchdown of the evening on a 24-yard run in the third quarter for a 37-0 lead.
Bell-Jeff’s Demitri Moreno added 82 yards on seven carries and he caught two passes for 38 yards.
Varnadoe led Fairmont (0-2) with 46 yards on 15 rushes to go with 64 yards passing. He added a late touchdown on a six-yard scramble.
“I’m more proud of the way the kids executed on both sides of the ball,” Aguirre said. “Offensively, they were tremendous.”