The Vaqueros (1-1, 0-1) fell in their WSC (spell out on first mention) Southern Division opener Saturday as they hosted the Cougars (2-0, 1-0) in a game that featured a potential new star on offense for Glendale.
Backup quarterback Steve Martinez entered the game early in the fourth quarter and asserted himself after replacing starting quarterback Kenneth McDaniel who was unable to lead Glendale to the end zone through three quarters.
The Vaqueros scored their only touchdown on 1-yard rush by Martinez late in the game. The touchdown capped a Martinez led 80-yard, six-play drive that featured Martinez connecting on four straight passes, but proved too late as the Cougars already enjoyed a comfortable 19-0 lead before the drive. The Cougars are the top ranked defensive team in the WSC by allowing just 169 yards a game and it showed as both quarterbacks were unable to really muster up big drives.
Martinez completed 5 for 11 passes for 101 yards as McDaniel struggled with 103 yards on 9 for 15 passing and was unable to capitalize on a scoreless first half for the Cougars.
“In the first half we had mental mistakes like dropped passes that were wide open,” McDaniel said. “Things like that always happen, but we stopped ourselves from executing and that really hurt us.”
Both teams were scoreless heading into the second half as L.A. Southwest’s quarterback Danny Brown struggled to take advantage of a weak Glendale secondary. Both teams struggled at the beginning of the second half but the Cougars struck first with an 18-yard field goal and then again with a 52-yard field goal a few minutes later to put the score at 6-0. Then Chris Singleton of L.A. Southwest scored their final touchdown on a 10-yard rush in the fourth quarter.
The running attack for Glendale was no match for the top ranked Cougar defense as Chris Berroud ran for only 22 yards on 14 carries and Justin Tyler ran for 29 yards on two carries. The offense seemed stagnant through most of the game and the coaching staff feeling the game slipping away took a chance with Martinez who seemed to electrify the offense and find holes in the Cougar coverage.
Head coach John Cicuto will now have more options at the quarterback position but is slow to make a solid judgment on his newly discovered quarterback.
“Martinez came in and looked relaxed, moved the ball really well and had a good presence about him,” Cicuto said. “But there was also no real pressure on him either so you hate to make a critique on your starting quarterback who has played two really good games this year.”
Cicuto is however pleased that there will be competition at the position and hopes both will relish the opportunity and learn from each other. Martinez relayed his excitement about getting more snaps.
“I don’t think the coaches really knew what I could do, but now they got to really see me play,” Martinez said. “Of course any good player wants the chance to play and I’ll be ready when the coaches need me.”
McDaniel seems to have a positive outlook on Martinez establishing himself on the team and looks at him as another weapon for the Vaquero offense.
“The offense is the one losing the games for us,” McDaniel said. “We’re going to have to work on that. He [Martinez] is supposed to get the chance. I’m just going to do what I can and if he comes out on top, so be it.”
Coach Cicuto seems reluctant to reshuffle his lineup because of one game and one quarter that already seemed out of reach for the Vaqueros.
“Kenny [McDaniel] deserves to take the most reps because he’s been here for three years and knows the program,” Cicuto said. “Both are going to play so if one is having a bad game we can put in the other guy.”
The Cougars were playing hard defense throughout the game, but seemed to ease off and allow Martinez the easy looks.
“We were just backing off and trying to let the time go by,” Brandon Souder of L.A. Southwest said. “They were executing really well in the first half though, but our defense is just too good.”
Although it seems unlikely there will be a change in the starting quarterback position anytime soon, Cicuto will review film and make adjustments according to the opponent.
“I couldn’t answer that question yet,” Cicuto said referring to who he will start. “We’ll look at film before we make any final decisions.”
Whatever the situation may be the Vaqueros need to win their next game to stay in the playoff race. Their next game is at Culver City High against West L.A. College tomorrow at 7 p.m.