LOS ANGELES — The Bellarmine-Jefferson High football team ended up on the wrong end of the scene that unfolded after Friday night’s game at Salesian.
One team celebrated at midfield, ringing a victory bell on the 50-yard line and entertaining a packed homecoming game crowd. The other, limped off the field dejectedly, the end result of an ugly blowout game marred by injuries and penalties.
The latter team was Bell-Jeff, the victim of a 53-6 Santa Fe League loss at the hands of the Mustangs (5-2, 1-0 in league).
“We met a very explosive team,” said Bell-Jeff Coach Rolando Aguirre. “All their kids played hard. They’re just a good team. But I’m proud of how we played.”
The Guards (3-4, 0-1) showed resiliency, continuing to play tough throughout the contest despite scoring just once. Bell-Jeff put six points on the board with a quarterback sneak by junior Mitch Kellogg early in the second quarter. The touchdown came as the result of a labored and hard-fought drive, in which the Guards’ offense managed to convert a trio of third downs and a fourth down, showing their resiliency.
Sophomores Eric Agaverdyan and Demitri Moreno were prime examples of that work ethic. Running back Moreno, a running back, had 73 rushing yards on 13 carries after suffering an injury on a kick return early in the game. Agaverdyan, a fullback, ran for 42 yards on 10 carries. The duo helped Bell-Jeff outgain the Mustangs, 163-119.
“You know who rose to the occasion on our team? Our sophomores,” Aguirre said. “I’m so proud of them. They were tremendous. All the sophomores stepped in and did it. They did a great job.”
While Moreno was able to return to the game, Agaverdyan saw more carries as the unfortunate result of Joshua Martinez leaving the contest in the first half. The tailback was the victim of a helmet-to-helmet collision so vicious it drew a loud gasp from the crowd. Martinez was the Guards’ second-leading rusher at the time with five carries for 14 yards.
“We didn’t come fully prepared to hit, and that’s what happens,” Aguirre said.
The Mustangs came ready to hit right from kickoff. After going four-and-out on their first possession, the Guards’ Alejandro Marroqin had his punt blocked by Luvon Lucas and it was recovered on the Bell-Jeff 27-yard line by the Mustangs.
On the first play of Salesian’s first drive of the game, Jihad Vercher hooked up with Keishawne Rowe on a 27-yard touchdown pass at 10:20.
The Mustangs would score again before the Guards finally got on the board, but Salesian then scored on its next drive. Another blocked punt was returned it to just outside the goal line but a personal foul penalty gave Bell-Jeff another chance with a 1st down at the 50.
But a fumble on a first down at their own 37-yard line led to a turnover. Armando Valdez scooped up the ball and ran it back the other way for a touchdown, putting Salesian up, 26-6, with 5:53 left in the opening half. Salesian scored again with 43.3 seconds left in the frame, leaving the Guards down, 33-6, at the half.
The second half began with Salesian’s Shakare Ina returning the opening kickoff for an 80-yard touchdown, which effectively doomed the Guards, leaving them in a 39-6 deficit. One more long, laborious drive failed to materialize and the Mustangs went on to score two more times in its homecoming victory.