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Riordan runs over Panthers

By Tuukka Hess Daily Planet Correspondent
Monday October 02, 2000

Perennial powerhouse St. Mary’s High witnessed an unwelcome, yet eerily familiar spectacle last Saturday afternoon as Archbishop Riordan High (San Francisco) put together the kind of punishing offensive exhibition that St. Mary’s fans have grown used to their own Panthers imparting. Powered by a dominant defensive line and a very methodical “seven minutes and a cloud of dust” Wing-T offense, Riordan (4-0) ran for 364 yards en route to a 28-7 victory in a non-conference meeting between the two schools.  

From Riordan’s opening 13-play, 7:23-minute drive, St. Mary’s defensive line was moved almost at will, seemingly unable to handle Riordan’s three back, no-wideout set. With Riordan’s 6-2, 240-pound fullback Rich Mier bursting through the line and running backs Jeremy Konaris and Marc Walker sweeping down the sideline, Riordan offered a simple picture of Panther-like football. Eat the clock and wash it down with points has been the St. Mary’s battle cry this year. Watching Riordan gain ground on hand-off after hand-off, St. Mary’s fans heard it loudly echo back from across the Bay. 

“They play that ball control, they eat the clock. And when you get possession, you just can’t make mistakes,” said St. Mary’s head coach Dan Shaughnessy. “We do that to other people. It’s terrible when happens to you.” 

Hampered by two early Riordan touchdowns and lack of time, not to mention a very stingy Riordan rushing defense, early on St. Mary’s (2-2) all but abandoned their vaunted ground attack. On their fourth possession, already trailing 14-0 with 3:30 remaining in the first half, the Panthers turned to senior quarterback Jason Washington. Taking over on his own 20-yard line, Washington responded by giving Riordan its only scare, spearheading a 51-yard drive bolstered by two 15-yard pass-interference penalties committed by a stunned Riordan defense.  

Backed up on to its own 26-yard line, Riordan called a time-out to compose the defense. After gathering its wits, Riordan blitzed Washington, resulting in a Mier sack for a loss of 15 yards. Two incompletions and one scramble later, Riordan had survived the only drive the Panthers could sustain in the first half.  

“We told our kids that we are going to keep that ball away from them as much as we can, try to wear them down. They have a lot of kids going both ways. And we obviously we can’t give up the big play to (Panther’s running back Trestin George). We put a guy on (George) wherever he went. That was our whole focus today, that kid.” 

The second half was a nightmare for St. Mary’s, when two of their five possessions ended with fumbles and a third with an interception. Coming out of the locker room needing 14 points to tie, Panther wide receiver Courtney Brown promptly fumbled the ball, setting up yet another six-minute, 10-play, 51-yard Riordan march to the endzone.  

Trailing 21-0 and looking increasingly desperate, St. Mary’s next possession wasn’t much better. Relying on the pass-interference and holding penalties by Riordan for their only positive offensive yardage, the officials marched St. Mary’s up to the 47-yard line. Facing a second-and-15 close to midfield, Washington fumbled the ball under heavy Riordan pressure, and the Crusaders recovered to end the threat. 

It wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter that Riordan allowed any Panther points, and even those didn’t come at the end of a long drive. Facing second-and-10 on his own 44-yard line, Washington spotted wide receiver Omar Young streaking down the right sideline. In a testament to the arm strength and accuracy that is becoming obvious to the Panther faithful, Washington threw a 55-yard bomb, hitting Young in stride at the one-yard line to step into the endzone. It was, perhaps, the one good memory that St. Mary’s will take from the game.  

“We wanted to pass against them, and we thought we could pass against them in certain sets,” Shaughnessy said. “But, give them credit. They called out a lot of our own patterns. We made adjustments at half-time, but it was too little too late.” 

Fourteen seconds after the St. Mary’s score, Riordan running back Jeremy Konaris responded with a spectacular play of his own. After a Panther squib kickoff left Riordan at their own 40-yard line, Konaris turned the corner on a sweep left and sprinted the remaining 60 yards down the left sideline to give Riordan a 27-7 lead. After Mier successfully converted his fourth point after attempt of the afternoon, Riordan had their 21-point margin of victory. 

St. Mary’s takes on Pinole Valley next Friday at 7 p.m.