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Sloppiness dooms the ’Cats

Wildcats struggle to protect quarterback and get the running game going

Posted: September 4, 2009 11:46 p.m.
Updated: September 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.
OXNARD — West Ranch head football coach Sean O’Brien quickly blurted out one word in reference to his team’s heart-breaking loss.


A mishandled punt that led to a touchdown and a field goal with 44 seconds left in regulation were all Hueneme of Oxnard needed to beat the Wildcats 10-8.

West Ranch struggled to get consistent play from its offense Friday night.

“High emotion, but real sloppy,” O’Brien said. “Real, real, real sloppy.”

Hueneme got on the board first when West Ranch fumbled a punt in the first quarter.

After a brief scrum, the ball bounced into the end zone and Vikings wide receiver Allan Ewald dove on it.

The Wildcats (0-1) took the lead midway through the fourth quarter thanks to the efforts of fullback Trevin Manuel.

The junior rushed 15 times for 60 yards on the night, and he scored a two-yard touchdown to cut Hueneme’s lead to 7-6.

A roughing the kicker penalty then moved the point-after attempt half the distance to the goal, and Manuel forced his way in to the end zone to give West Ranch an 8-7 lead.

But from there, Hueneme (1-0) controlled the clock and rattled off a 17-play drive, culminating in the game-winning field goal and ending a 10-game losing streak stemming from last season.

“West Ranch was as tough as we could ask for,” said Vikings head coach Joe Martinez. “We bit off as much as we could handle.”

On the other side, O’Brien praised Manuel’s efforts on both sides of the ball as a fullback and defensive end.

But he wasn’t the only defender to come up big.

Junior defensive back Matt Bruns intercepted Vikings quarterback Jonathan Barnfather twice.

“That guy is 110 percent effort all the time,” O’Brien said. “It is all he knows how to do.”

Junior defensive back Matt Romano also intercepted Barnfather, who finished the game 8-for-24 with 144 yards and three picks.
But West Ranch wasn’t sharp enough to take advantage.

Wildcats junior quarterback Connor Eichten finished the game 5-for-13 with 73 yards and an interception, while running back Zak Snell carried the ball 14 times for 30 yards.

Eichten was sacked four times in the first half and struggled to develop chemistry with his receivers, while the offensive line collapsed around him.

West Ranch’s defense struggled to contain Vikings running back Trashaun Nixon, who led his team with 79 yards, most of which came in the fourth quarter.

Senior tight end James McGough led the Wildcats with 47 yards off two catches.

The Wildcats had their best opportunity to score late in the second quarter after a pass inference call on fourth-and-19 put the ball on Hueneme’s 15-yard line with a fresh set of downs.

However, West Ranch committed several penalties and was forced to settle for a field goal attempt.

The kick went wide right.

The game went into halftime 7-0.

Clearly frustrated by the outcome and the lack of execution, O’Brien easily summed up the night with yet another word.

“Disappointing,” he said.


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