Grizzlies struggle, but remain unbeaten
"Bonehead" penalties force St. Jacques to lecture team after 19-7 win It's not the way Lassen head coach Tom St. Jacques wants to win, but as far as staying in line for a league title, he'll take it.
His football team sputtered to what was probably its ugliest win in recent memory. In front of a home crowd, the Grizzlies weathered the storm against a stingy Orland team and forged out a 19-7 win, but didn't impress many people in the process.
"I told them to wear their track shoes on Monday," St. Jacques said. "What happen out there wasn't necessary. It just makes them look bad and the program look bad. I was extremely unhappy."
For the second game in a row, Lassen was whistled for at least 10 major penalties-most of them were a result of arrogance and poor judgment.
"Against Corning, I think our penalties were out of aggressiveness, but this week they were just bonehead penalties. The kids can't be pushing, talking and hitting late like they did. They can't lose their composure like that," said St. Jacques, who chewed out his team after the game. "If we want to be champions, we have to act like champions. That kind of behavior is just not acceptable."
Lassen (8-0) certainly played like a section champion early in the game, scoring with just less than four minutes into the game. On the opening kickoff, the Grizzlies marched 60 yards into the end zone on eight plays, with Ross Sobierajski capping the drive with a six-yard touchdown run.
Minutes later, Lassen defensive end, Austin Azevedo, scooped up a fumbled pitch and sprinted 76 yards for a touchdown, giving the Grizzlies a comfy 13-0 lead with 5:14 left in the first quarter.
Ryan Arredondo then nearly had an interception and tripped up Shane Anderson to prevent a first down on Orland's ensuing drive, setting the stage for E.J. Persons' 74-yard run and Lassen's third touchdown.
"It was another good start for us. It looked as if we were going to run away with it," St. Jacques said.
Both teams traded the ball on turnovers at the start of the second quarter before Orland's Danny Duckworth broke free untouched down the left side on the option for a 51-yard touchdown run with 1:04 left in the first half.
Lassen had a chance to extend its lead, but Mitch Lively missed left on a 38-yard field goal attempt.
"I think we moved the ball OK in the second half, but we kept moving ourselves back on penalties. Orland is a good team and has some talented players, but we were our own worst enemy," St. Jacques said. "Three years in a row we haven't played Orland well, coming off the Corning game.
"If there's a good thing that came from this game, it's that I have fuel for practice this coming week. This game was a wake-up call for us."
Lassen piled up 230 rushing yards with Persons leading the way with 116 yards in nine carries. Sobierajski followed with 80 yards in 12 carries. John Black and Cody Frailey combined for 37 yards.
Black completed nine of 22 passes for 131 yards. Frailey had three catches for 56 yards and Ryan Marshall reeled in three catches for 34 yards.
With two games left in the regular season, Lassen heads down to Oroville this Friday. The Tigers (5-3, 2-1) are coming off a 35-13 win over Gridley and seemingly always match up well with the Grizzlies.
Like last year, Oroville got off to a slow start, but of late, has come on strong. Lassen will have to be ready to defend the pass as first-year quarterback Andre Goods is starting to find his groove.
"Their quarterback is good and could give us some problems. We're going to have to dig in on defense again," St. Jacques said. "It's never easy going down there to play. Oroville gives us fits every time we play them.
"We need to keep our focus. This team has pulled together and won some tough games this year. We need to keep it going.
Other players to watch out for include all-league tight end John Brinley, wide receiver Tim Mitchell, wingback Mike Bourassa, and running back Robert Pittman and Matt Ruff.
A win would assure Lassen of at least a share of its third straight Westside League crown, assuming Corning beats Gridley this Friday.
"We're in the driver's seat. We just got to make sure we don't crash the car," said St. Jacques.
In other action across the Northern Section, Corning defeated Las Plumas 20-0; Central Valley dumped Anderson 39-22; Shasta beat Chico 30-17; West Valley edged Yreka 36-31; Enterprise beat Eureka 35-14, and Sutter buried Colusa 62-0.
Corning is waiting for Lassen to slip up. Assuming Corning beats Gridley and Oroville to close out the regular season, the Cardinals would earn a share of the WSL title.
"We want the title to be ours and ours alone. It going to take two solid games of football to leave Oroville two weeks in a row with wins," St. Jacques said.
Lassen closes out the regular season at Las Plumas on Friday, Nov. 2.
The Grizzlies figure to get a first-round bye in the playoffs if they win at least one of their final two games. Lassen is the sole undefeated team in Division I.
The freshman team won its second game of the year, cruising to a 33-16 victory over Orland. The junior varsity team lost 9-0.