If the East High Blades wanted to repeat as Southeast Yosemite League champions, they had no more room for error. Following an overtime loss to North last week and a massive rivalry game against Highland next week, the in-between game against the surprise Foothill Trojans had all the makings of a trap game.
The Blades thought otherwise, however, dominating the Trojans en route to a 34-6 thrashing on Friday night at East High.
“We came off a horrible loss last week so we were hungry for this one,” said East head coach Kasey Tittlemeier. “We wanted to prove that we weren’t that team that was going to lose and that we could compete against anybody in this league.”
East (7-2, 3-1 SEYL) came out swinging after forcing the first Foothill possession to go three-and-out. Willie Ball threw a 43-yard pass to Anthony Salazar and capped off the drive himself with a 5-yard keeper, immediately setting the tone for the Blades.
On the next possession, Ball went deep again and found Mike Rodriguez for a 65-yard passing touchdown.
“There was a lot of film preparation,” Tittlemeier said on East’s big offensive plays. “We saw a lot of man coverage to the single receiver side and we took advantage of that. When you can run and pass the ball and you can exploit it...it’s nice to be multi-dimensional.”
The home runs didn’t stop for East, as Nate Martinez, with the help of many key lead blocks, juked and jived past the Foothill (4-5, 1-3) front seven and rumbled for 46 yards, which was capped off by a Jackson Phillips 6-yard touchdown as East went ahead 21-0 in the second quarter. Phillips would add another 9-yard score in the fourth quarter.
The Foothill three-headed rushing monster of Tyson Reynolds, Kaelan Deloney and Bryan Diaz struggled to get out of the gates as they were stymied by the Blades with a combined 82 yards on 25 rushes.
“Our scout team gave us a great look this week in practice,” Tittlemeier said on East’s defensive effort. “We put a lot of starters on that side of the ball that were going to maul us up front and get movement at the point of attack and our kids responded well and took care of little things technique wise that helped execute the game plan.”
The Blades continued the trend of big plays as Ball found Rodriguez again with a beautiful arching pass in the back corner of the end zone for a 33-yard score, opening up the lead to 27-0 in the third.
Foothill's lone touchdown came on a Deloney 7-yard run on the following possession, the Trojans' first offensive points in two weeks.
Now the defending co-SEYL champion Blades will get their chance to grab another share of the prize on Friday when they take on the buzzsaw that is the Highland Scots. Highland already has at least a share of the SEYL title following their 41-17 win over South. If East wants a piece, they have to win.
“Offensively, Highland does so many things so well so we just have to try to match that and get our guys prepared and continue to execute in order to get what we want,” said Tittlemeier.
Foothill will get their third opportunity to end the regular season with a .500 record for the first time since 2011 as the Trojans will take on Mira Monte.