Give Me a Break!

Chloe Vignolles-Jeong

The Vaqueros football team didn’t play a game this week because it was their bye week, and now after endless reviews of film and cardio workouts, everyone is left to wonder: will the Vaqueros step up their game and beat the College of the Canyons Cougars this Saturday?

The answer: “We will be ready for College of the Canyons,” said second-year head Coach John Rome.

Coming into the bye week the Vaqs are 3-2 on the season, and 0-1 in the Western State Conference. With a few injuries and some misunderstandings, the Vaqs are still ranked fairly high.

“Defensively I’m very happy with the progress that we’ve made, we play very good defense,” said Rome. And indeed, they do. Currently the defense is ranked 10th in the state and first in pass defense. Leading defensive players include Rene Howard, Josh Harmon, Kalii Robinson, and Osa Aikhionbare.

Howard leads the defense with 33 tackles, one sack, an interception, two forced fumbles and one blocked field goal. Harmon is also among the top with 30 tackles, three interceptions and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Robinson has 27 tackles, one interception and a fumble recovery, which also lead to a touchdown. Aikhionbare has 20 tackles and two interceptions.

Other standout players include Max Williams with 16 tackles and two interceptions. Jesse Halberstadt has 14 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

The offense has been struggling with an injury to a lineman, Bobby Pardo, which has hurt the running game and also the passing game. After a hot start, the Vaqs are averaged just 8.6 points a game over the past three games.

“Our offense on the other hand, an injury to one of our offensive lineman has proved that we need to improve our offensive line play,” said Rome. “I think that affects how our offense has progressed.”

The rushing offense is led by Jorge Chaidez, Willie Younglbood, and Joe Wiggan.

Chaidez has carried the ball 87 times, has 447 yards, and two touchdowns. Youngblood has 65 carries for 209 yards, and two touchdowns. Wiggan has 22 carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns.Wiggan has four receptions for 66 yards and two touchdowns.

Along with Wiggan, the receiving offense includes Brian Williams and Eudell Clayton.

Williams has connected with the quarterback 13 times, for 202 yards and three touchdowns. Clayton has 11 receptions for 133 yards and two touchdowns.

Other players include Dylan Ryan with six receptions for 67 yards, Nick Bryan with four receptions for 40 yards, and Steve Batista with four receptions for 73 yards.

Quarterback Steve Miller has been under pressure for the past two games. He’s completed less than 50 percent of his passes and has thrown five interceptions. He has thrown for 690 yards total and 7 touchdowns. Rome commented on the pressure that Miller has been under.

“The pressure that the quarterback feels has got him throwing off his back foot. He’s been throwing a little tentative, and that hurts the offense and also hurts the running game.”

Even with the pressure Miller has been feeling, Rome has faith in him. He believes that Miller will come right back and that the offensive line will help him rebound for this weekend’s game against the Cougars.

Rome is also impressed with all the returning players. He said that the players were at the school five days a week at 6:30 a.m. to lift weights in the off-season and it has shown in the way the team has performed so far in the season. As well as improving physically, the players have also improved academically.

During the bye week, the team has continued to practice. They have tried to get better as a team, rather than game planning. They are improving as football players, and using the week to fix the small problems the team has faced.

All in all, the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time.