By Ryan Owens, Online Sports Editor
// Revenge is always best served cold. The Acalanes football team showed they had not forgotten last year’s brutal loss to El Cerrito by racing past the Gauchos 44-12 on Sept. 20.
Senior running back Jake Delaney took the opening kickoff 60 yards to set the Dons up deep in El Cerrito territory, but a high snap plays later resulted in an Acalanes turnover. However, a shutdown Dons defense and a blocked punt by junior Joey Carillo gave Acalanes the ball one yard from paydirt.
Junior quarterback Brady Huchinson put the Dons on the board on an easy run play and they never looked back.
After the defense forced a 3-and-out, Huchinson found senior wide receiver Lucas Eppinger from 27 yards out to give the Dons a 13-0 lead following a missed point after touchdown (PAT). Following another 3-and-out for El Cerrito thanks to a dominant Dons defense, Huchingson found Eppinger again for a 21 yard touchdown pitch and catch. Eppinger had five receptions for 169 yards.
The defense gave the Dons offense great field position due to an ambitious mindset.
“I think we were really aggressive and against a team like El Cerrito you need to be. We were running to the ball and making plays,” senior linebacker Mikey O’Donnell said.
A third consecutive 3-and-out for El Cerrito set up Eppinger’s third receiving touchdown of the quarter, a 68 yard bomb from Huchingson to give Acalanes a 27-0 lead after one. Eppinger gives his fellow receivers credit for his success.
“I’m only getting open because my teammates are running their routes hard and taking the attention of the defenders,” he said.
The offense cooled off in the 2nd quarter for Acalanes, with a 42 yard field goal by junior Hunter Ridley being the only score for the Dons. El Cerrito put together a quality drive late in the half and scored a touchdown with eight seconds left, but Acalanes led 30-6 at the break.
O’Donnell single handedly finished the game off early in the third quarter. On the Gauchos’ first play after receiving the kickoff, O’Donnell intercepted a pass, and took the ball 44 yards to the house, extending the Dons lead to 31 points. On El Cerrito’s very next offensive play, the senior linebacker laid a crushing hit on the Gaucho running back, forcing a fumble recovered by senior John Kalil.
Huchingson connected with senior Ryan Reily two plays later on a short pass to give the Dons a 44-6 lead. El Cerrito would score a touchdown of little significance late in the fourth quarter, to make the score a little more respectable at 44-12.
Huchingson finished an efficient 7-12 passing for 172 yards and four touchdowns and junior safety Joe Evans helped the offense out with an interception.
Five games into the season, Lucas Eppinger has 25 catches for a staggering 636 yards to go along with nine touchdowns. He is averaging 127.2 yards per game through the air.
“I think our coach’s game planning throughout the week ultimately set up the entire team for success,” Eppinger said.
Around the DFAL
The Diablo Athletic League- Foothill Division (DFAL) had a successful week, going 3-1 against the competition. Alhambra downed Oakland Tech 28-8, while Miramonte was blown out by Piner 53-14. That school in Moraga shutout Hayward 21-0.
The Dons host Oakland for their homecoming game this Friday, Sept. 27, before getting a well deserved bye week. League play begins for Acalanes at Las Lomas Oct. 11. Staying focused with big leads will help the team win the close games that will certainly be played in league.
“I think we need to improve on keeping our head in the game and not letting the big lead get to us,” O’Donnell said.