Coming into this newly minted season, the offensive staff at Orange Glen High knew that it had a crackerjack running back in Cael Patterson, a potentially dangerous receiver in Christian Gonzalez Torres and a pretty solid offensive line.
The biggest X-factor figured to be how would sophomore quarterback Ethan Villalobos adjust to the bright lights of being a starter—and could he be more playmaker than caretaker?
Well, if his highly-promising outing against host Clairemont during last Friday night’s 45-14 victory was any indication, Villalobos is primed to perform beyond his years and to soon make a name for himself.
Versus the Chieftains, Villalobos had a coming-out party of sorts, completing 11 passes that translated into 192 yards and three touchdowns. He also showed that he could make some hay on the ground, tallying on a rushing score as well. But almost as importantly, he kept his miscues to a minimum and was intercepted just once.
Another encouraging aspect of Villalobos’s effort was that he was able to establish a rapport with the athletic Gonzalez Torres. Twice the pair was able to hook up and revealingly, both those receptions (52 yards) resulted in trips to the end zone.
And yet as good as Villalobos was, he still couldn’t qualify as the Patriots’ main headliner on this evening. That distinction – no real surprise here – went to the prolific Patterson who was an absolute force regardless of how he gained possession of the rock. By night’s end, the Pats’ elusive star had rushed for 225 yards and two scores while doing additional damage (123 yards, TD) as a productive receiver out of the backfield. Durable, competitive and clutch, Patterson gives the Pats the kind of foundational player that can potentially carry a team for long stretches of time.
Another OG ballcarrier that showed quite well and pitched in with a laudable effort was the tough Ruben Ramirez, who parlayed his 14 totes into 83 yards.
The Pats were also the beneficiaries of a strong outing from the defense which created some key turnovers. Outside linebacker Dylan Ewing was a definite factor as he caused a fumble in addition to recording six total tackles. That was the same amount of stops that touted middle ‘backer Julien Lesa posted.
Meanwhile, two-way athletes Patterson (S) and Ramirez (LB) made an impression with the former forcing a fumble while the latter recovered one. Defensive back Tristen Smith also stood out when he picked off a pass and returned it some 49 yards. Defensive lineman Jason Gonzalez mixed it up well in the trenches while covering a loose ball as did Ulises DeLeon who recorded a sack to go along with a pair of quarterback hurries.
In short, it was the kind of encouraging overall effort that suggests the Pats have the wherewithal to distance themselves from a difficult 2017 season and perhaps rebound in a significant way. Orange Glen will get an opportunity to build on its impressive opener this coming Friday evening when it plays host to Hoover. It’ll be most interesting to see what Villalobos, Patterson and crew can do for an encore.
Local Scoreboard – Valley League rivals Escondido and San Pasqual each opened up with notable wins. The Cougars got the best of Hilltop 31-20 while the Golden Eagles thumped Sweetwater by a 48-7 count.
On the flip side, both Classical and Escondido Charter took losses on the road. The Caimans’ trip to Hawaii was an enriching one in many ways but not on the scoreboard as they fell to Waimea 35-14. As for the White Tigers, there were some hopeful signs, particularly on offense, but Southwest SD nonetheless got the upper hand in a 57-26 final.
Calvin Christian was idle but kicks off its season Friday night when it will take on visiting Public Safety Academy.