Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008 | midnight
- Portaro leads Crusaders to victory (9-6-2008)
- Late 2-point conversion gives Rams 21-20 win (9-6-2008)
- Sewell breaks out as Foothill stomps Cimarron-Memorial, 28-6 (9-6-2008)
- Del Sol blanks Chaparral in 28-0 win (9-6-2008)
- Basic stalls out Eldorado despite its own slow start (9-6-2008)
- Backfield duo lifts Legacy over Bonanza (9-6-2008)
- Vikings light up Liberty (9-6-2008)
- Skyhawks rack up 11th straight againt Mojave (9-6-2008)
- Defense comes up strong in Centennial's win (9-6-2008)
- Roundup of other Las Vegas area prep games (9-6-2008)
- Harris shines with 4 TDs in Palo Verde win (9-6-2008)
On the opening drive of Friday's game against Shadow Ridge, Coronado's football team drove the ball 69 yards on nine plays without a penalty, culminating the possession with a 6-yard scoring pass from senior Dane Cooper to Darren Smith in the back right corner of the end zone.
On any other night it would have been a fairly unremarkable drive, especially considering how easily the Cougars ended up defeating the Mustangs, 30-14, at home.
However, after Coronado (2-0) committed more than 20 penalties the previous week against Clark — many of them false starts that stalled drives — the flag-free possession Friday set the perfect tone for the rest of the game.
"That was really, really satisfying," CHS coach John Mannion said, "because we worked this week on discipline, on not jumping, on not killing ourselves, not shooting ourselves in the foot. To see us do that, to eat up the clock, just pound the ball up the field with no penalties — it was just fantastic. I was proud of them. I really was."
The first-teamers gave Mannion plenty of reasons to be proud, committing just four penalties for 40 yards, with just two of them coming after their first defensive series.
Just like Coronado's opening drive put the Cougars in the right mindset, Shadow Ridge's inability to take advantage of two pass interference calls — both on third downs — on its first possession was a sign of things to come.
After a punt on that drive, Cooper gave the Cougars a 16-0 lead with a 3-yard pass to Cory Argubright, and the Mustangs gave the ball back four plays later with a fumble in Coronado territory.
Cooper returned the favor four plays later with an interception near midfield on fourth-and-11 that Nick McDearmon returned to the Cougars' 16-yard line. Shadow Ridge (1-1) couldn't take advantage, though, as three plays and another fumble later Coronado had the ball again.
"You just have to execute," Shadow Ridge coach Gabe Gledhill said. "You can't turn the ball over and expect to win football games."
The Cougars weren't executing much better at that point in the game, botching a fake put on fourth down from their own 22-yard line and giving the Mustangs the ball in the red zone with three minutes left before halftime.
Shadow Ridge squandered the opportunity, though, as four straight rushing plays got the ball inside Coronado's 10-yard line but no further as Zach Hill was stuffed on fourth-and-3 and the Cougars ran out the clock.
"We didn't fold and put our heads down and say 'Aw, jeez, here we go again,'" Mannion said about his team's final defensive stand of the first half. "We just rose up, took the ball back, and it's fun to see things like that happen."
The Mustangs scored on their first and final plays of the second half, with Hill returning the opening kickoff 78 yards for a score and McDearmon throwing a 25-yard touchdown to Jordan Karl with just more than a minute left in the game.
Coronado matched Shadow Ridge with two touchdowns of its own, though — a pass from Cooper to Blake Riley and a short run by Marcus Garcia — for the final margin and a 2-0 start to the season.
"It feels fantastic, feels great," said first-year coach Mannion. "A little pressure off. It's just exciting. It's a confidence builder. I can see it in the kids' eyes. They're starting to realize that we got something good here. We're going to go into the conference schedule in good shape if we stay on track. The kids made significant improvements this week in areas like discipline. Just great, great strides."
Cooper finished 10-of-19 passing for 182 yards and three touchdowns, along with 11 yards on the ground. Garcia carried the ball 17 times for 84 yards, and Darren Smith caught five passes for 96 yards for the Cougars.
Hill led the Mustangs with 64 yards on 13 rushes, and McDearmon had 15 rushing yards along with his scoring pass.
"He's a competitor, and you're probably going to see a lot more of him in the near future," Gledhill said of the sophomore quarterback.
Next week Shadow Ridge will face Spring Valley, while Coronado travels to Sierra Vista.
"I think we're going to be fine against them," Mannion said. "We're going in with good confidence and very few injuries, which is really a blessing. I think we'll be all right."