Espinosa re­turns to start­ing QB role for Lancers

Manteca Bulletin - - Sports - By JONAMAR JAC­INTO

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.

JONAMAR JAC­INTO/Bul­letin file photo

Eric Mo­rales hands off to JoJo Espinosa dur­ing a pre­sea­son prac­tice at East Union. Espinosa is back be­hind cen­ter for the Lancers.

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