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Saugus thinks upset

The Centurions face the state’s fourth-ranked team

Posted: December 4, 2008 9:53 p.m.
Updated: December 5, 2008 4:55 a.m.
To say Saugus is facing a tough challenge this week would be an understatement.

But at this point of the game, it’s to be expected.

This is the exact same place the Centurions found themselves in last year — facing No. 1 seeded St. Bonaventure of Ventura in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs.

The Seraphs defeated the Centurions 55-36 on Dec. 1.

Saugus (9-3) will play the Seraphs (11-1) at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Ventura High.

St. Bonaventure will undoubtedly be favored in this contest.

The Seraphs are the defending CIF-State Division III champions and are currently ranked fourth in the state by Cal-HiSports.

“They’re the defending champs and everyone will be gunning for them,” said Saugus head coach Jason Bornn. “With that title comes responsibility and everyone is going to try their best against you. They are a very formidable opponent. Our guys are self-motivated at this point.”

St. Bonaventure will certainly be the toughest competition Saugus has faced all season.

The Seraphs average 36.8 points per game while allowing opponents an average of 11.5 points per game.

St. Bonaventure’s 12-7 loss to the state’s top-ranked team, Long Beach Poly, on Oct. 10 is its only setback this season.

Crespi of Encino is the only alike opponent both Saugus and St. Bonaventure faced this season.

Saugus lost handily to Crespi in a 37-14 contest on Oct. 10, while the Seraphs had a comfortable 31-14 win over the Celts on Sept. 26.

But despite what the numbers reflect and what the critics may say, Bornn said this game will be business as usual.

“We’re not going to deviate from our plan,” he said. “ We’re just going to do what we do.”

However, there will be one notable difference for the Centurions.

Preeminent running back Ryan Zirbel is nursing an ankle injury and though he will see playing time, the 5-foot-9 tailback won’t be the force he’s been all season long.

That will leave the majority of the offensive load to quarterback Desi Rodriguez.

Senior running back/defensive back Kollin Depew will also get a lot of a time at the tailback spot. Depew has 37 carries for 242 yards and 32 receptions for 451 yards.

Bornn also said two freshmen running backs have been getting repetitions in order to alleviate some of Zirbel’s pressure.

The Seraphs are productive on both sides of the ball and return seven players from last season’s championship team on both the offense and defense.

USC commit Patrick Hall is a staunch competitor at both safety and running back. The 6-foot-1-inch senior has 43 carries for 482 yards and 13 receptions for 70 yards.

“He’s very explosive with the ball in his hands,” said St. Bonaventure head coach Todd Therrien. “He does things on defense that are very special. He does a little bit of everything. He is the playmaker.”

Hall is second on the depth chart in the running spot for St. Bonaventure.

Devon Blackledge leads the Seraphs in the offensive backfield.

The 5-foot-9-inch junior has 79 carries for 682 yards.

“He’s very young, yet reliable and he hits hard,” Therrien said. “A lot of people will know Devon next year.”

Seraphs quarterback Logan Meyer, a junior, is at the helm of the offense. Meyer is 108-of-181 for 1512 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Meyer has depth at receiver. His targets include Drew Gibson, Nolan Rodarte and Isaiah Burton.

“Across the board, offensively, a different guy has stepped up and done well all season,” Therrien said.

Therrien, a second-year head coach, said he’s not yet focused on getting another title. His focus is getting past Saugus, a task that will not come easily.

“No. 2 (Rodriguez) and No. 5 (Zirbel) are going to be the best we see all year,” he said. “No. 7 (Depew) is not bad either. They are very well coached and play hard. We have to stop the run, contain Desi and try stopping the big play.

“We just have to do what we do,” Therrien added. “We have our game plan and we go out and compete everyday. We’re ready for the challenge.”


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