Espinosa returns to starting QB role for Lancers
Having an abundance of talent at key positions can be a blessing and a curse for some teams.
For East Union coach Willie Herrera, it’s a luxury he hasn’t had until recent seasons.
While at times it has inevitably led to frustration for players who crave more opportunities to showcase their abilities, Herrera said the depth has created good competition from within and raised the overall level of the squad.
“We tell these guys there is no guaranteed playing time for anybody,” Herrera said. “Whoever is producing is going to play. This team has a wealth of talent, and because of that we’re going to have some unhappy guys each week.”
Quarterback depth has certainly helped spark the Lancers in the early going.
Over the summer, Herrera revealed that incumbent quarterback JoJo Espinosa was going to be replaced by junior Eric Morales, allowing the Lancers to use Espinosa’s all-around ability in other spots on both sides of scrimmage.
That surprise development has been followed by another just two weeks into the season — Espinosa is back behind center as the starter.
Morales sat the entire second half of East Union’s 39-19 zeroweek loss at Downey with sore ribs, and Espinosa stepped in and performed admirably in an emergency situation.
Espinosa was named the starter for the Week 1 contest at Napa, and he was one of many Lancers to star in the impressive 55-12 bounce-back victory. He has completed 68.8 of his passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 92 yards and two scores.
Herrera said Espinosa will remain as the starting QB for Friday’s home opener against Bear Creek, while the coaching staff is working to fit Morales in at other positions. Morales did have reps at quarterback on Saturday and applied a block that sprung Alex Alexander for a touchdown scamper.
“JoJo just took it and the team rallied behind him,” Herrera said. “We’re going to keep JoJo there. It’s not like JoJo hasn’t played quarterback before — he was a starting quarterback for us for three years in the program.
“He just wants to win, and he’s willing to play any position to help us win.”
Espinosa’s return to quarterback in the pistol/wing offense opened the door for another to shine. Leo Bonilla, previously Espinosa’s back-up at tailback, amassed 148 yards on just nine carries at Napa. The dynamic Raylen Carter (10 rushes, 108 yards, two TDs) also made an impact, as did a host of others — such as Lorenzo Contreras (two catches, two TDs) — despite limited touches.
“There are so many mouths to feed that we can’t make everybody happy, so they just have to
be ready for when their time comes,” Herrera said.
Opportunities may present themselves Friday against the improved Bruins from Bear Creek, who came out on the losing end of a 52-46 barnburner against Roseville on Aug. 17. They rebounded last week with a 58-16 pasting of Tokay.
They’re led by 6-foot-3, 185-pound receiver Chaz Davis (227 yards, four TDs), a Division I prospect who has found the end zone twice on special teams returns. He’s complemented by 225-pound running back Terry Holmes (218 yards, three TDs), who averages 9.1 yards per carry, and dual-threat QB Quincy Glasper (342 passing yards, four TDs; 131 rushing yards, TD).
“They have three super studs on offense, but they have a lot of other good players,” Herrera said. “We are going to have play good. I think we can match up with them athletically, it just comes down to who can be more disciplined.”
In other Week 2 action:
Granada at Manteca: The reigning Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champion Buffaloes (1-1) get another stiff test on their home turf following a heartbreaking 44-42 defeat to Downey.
Granada (2-0) of Livermore visits from the other side of the Altamont on the heels of 47-0 and 55-6 blowouts victories against Irvington and Newark Memorial. The Matadors, representing the powerhouse East Bay Athletic League, finished 9-5 last season and was the North Coast Section Division II runner-up.
Back from that team are electric playmakers in wide receiver Malini Ti’a and 5-9, 185-pound running back Zack Macintire.
Pacheco at Sierra: Both squads have undergone some changes since their first-ever meeting won by Pacheco, 42-27.
The Timberwolves (1-1) have unveiled their new triple option offense, which piled up 351 rushing yards while supplemented by a stingy defense in a 22-10 win over Central Valley last week.
Pacheco (1-0), meanwhile, has a new player behind center in Marcus Ordunez, who replaces productive dualthreat QB Aric Barton. The 6-2, 193-pound Ordunez was near-perfect in running the veer option attack, completing 10 of 11 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 55 yards in a 48-22 thumping of El Capitan. The Panthers totaled 300 yards on the ground.
Franklin at Weston Ranch: The undermanned Cougars (0-1) took their lumps in a 34-0 seasonopening loss at Ripon two weeks ago but goes into the all-Stockton showdown well rested from a bye week.
They’ll have a chance to build some confidence against Franklin (0-2), which is coming off a 43-6 defeat against Grace Davis. They’ve also lost to Linden, 55-34.
Running back Felipe Figueroa (269 yards, three TDs) has produced the bulk of the Yellowjackets’ offense so far. Meanwhile, Weston Ranch will look to get its West Coast offense and standout returning QB Amier Bowen untracked after get- ting shut out in Kevin Breaker’s debut as head coach.
Central Valley at Ripon: Can the Indians (2-0) go 3 for 3 in shutout victories? The defense has been stellar thus far, and its latest gem was the anchor of a stunning 34-0 win at Sonora — which had beaten Ripon four straight years.
The pistol/Wing-T offense has also impressed behind QB Ryan Daggett (131 yards, two TDs; 279 rushing yards, two TDs). Ripon looks to keep it rolling against a Central Valley (1-1) team that was limited to less than 250 yards of offense against Sierra after having its way with rival Ceres in Week Zero.
Erick Martinez- Stucchi (eight receptions, 136 yards, two TDs), a 6-2, 192-pound receiver, has been a bright spot for the Hawks.
Ripon Christian at Summerville: Ripon Christian (2-0) blasted Millennium and Stone Ridge Christian by a combined 112-18 score behind standout efforts from quarterbacks Cade Alger and Nolan Lingley, running back Michael Kamps and receiver/ defensive back Sean McGovern.
The Knights will get a better look at what’s to come in the Southern Athletic League when they visit the Bears (1-0) of Tuolumne, who grinded out a 42-30 win at RC last year.
Summerville edged out Mariposa, a SAL team, 10-9 in its season opener, with junior running back Nicholas Veach rambling for 150 yards and a TD. Sophomore QB Jaden Brocchini passed for 55 yards and ran for 63, and the Bears overcame three turnovers.
Eric Morales hands off to JoJo Espinosa during a preseason practice at East Union. Espinosa is back behind center for the Lancers.