Photo by Lance Winter
Shorthanded Bears downed by Trojans
As San Marcos Academy headed for the locker room, head coach Les Davis knew his team had to scramble.
The Bears had multiple players go down in the first half of their 26-12 loss to the Charlotte Trojans. The injuries were shrinking what was already a short roster.
“We had some guys go down and you’re looking around right before halftime and I’ve got no quarterbacks that are healthy,” Davis said. “And we were shuffling bodies around and at one point, in the secondary, I had three guys that haven’t even been playing in the secondary all year and all of a sudden had to go out there.”
Davis told his team to be ready. At a moment’s notice, they might have to fill in at any position. He was confident they would make it, though.
This season is the first in which SMA students have an athletic period as part of their school schedules. Prior to this year, players did not get to practice until the school day was over, forcing the coaches to cram in as much game planning as they could into each two-hour session.
With the extra time, the team can now focus more on developing its players.
“We’ve added a strength and conditioning class this year for our kids, and it’s already paying dividends,” Davis said. “The strength and conditioning has to be a part of it, because it’s not – that’s where kids get hurt, when you’re not as big and strong as the other team you’re trying to play against. So, that’s what we want to do, we just want to work on athleticism during that period for all our programs.”
The Bears’ improved stamina showed in the second half. Charlotte scored on a nine-play drive to open the third quarter, but could not complete a two-point conversion pass, leaving the score 26-6. SMA responded.
Sophomore Gino Dipollino, who started at quarterback for the Bears but was injured in the first quarter, made a triumphant return by breaking off a 19-yard run on the team’s first play of the half. He led the team on an 11-play march down the field, and ran in for a score on a crucial 4th and goal from three yards out, cutting the lead to 26-12.
“We got better at running the ball in the second half, and that was important because we have to be able to do that,” Davis said. “We’ve got some young kids up there that haven’t really played a lot and don’t have a lot of good experience on the offensive line. And it’s not easy to play and they were giving up a pretty good amount of size. But as the game wore on, we got better. And so, that opened up some lanes.”
SMA held the Trojans to a three-and-out on their next drive and returned the punt to Charlotte’s 31-yard-line. The Bears found senior wide receiver David Humphrey on back-to-back passes, who made it 21 yards down the field to the 10.
The team missed on a throw before sophomore running back Robby Newman took two carries for six yards just before the end of the third quarter. After flipping over to the other side of the field, SMA chose to go for it on fourth down.
Dipollino’s throw was off the mark. The Bears never got the ball back. The Trojans grinded down the clock on a 19-play, 94-yard drive that ended with Charlotte’s quarterback kneeling to seal the victory.
“From what I saw, our kids are in better shape in the fourth quarter than their kids were,” Davis said. “We just didn’t make some plays that we needed to.”
The loss drops SMA to 0–1 on the season. They’ll try to bounce back on the road at TMI-Episcopal on Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m. Davis said he expects his team to be stronger, and healthier, next week.
“I think that there’s so much upside in front of us,” Davis said. “We’ve got to avoid injuries whenever we can. And obviously, that showed up tonight … But, to the kids credit, they fought hard.”