ST. BERNARD — Action was explosive, immediate and one-sided during Friday’s matchup between St. Monica and Lucerne Valley.
The St. Monica Mariners jumped out to a 28-0 lead during the first half, helped along the way by a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior defensive back Danny White and two touchdown passes by junior quarterback Matthew Partyka as St. Monica won, 42-0.
Late in the half, Partyka would also scramble for another touchdown following a Lucerne Valley fumble on their own two-yard line.
To start the second half, the Mariners delivered an onside kick, recovering the ball just short of the 50-yard line.
“We just wanted to get an advantage, get the ball back and score some more points,” said Head Coach Larry Muno when asked why St. Monica chose to retain possession with a large lead. “All in all we felt that the game warranted it. We needed to get some momentum. Our momentum lulled and we wanted to get some back.”
From there forward, the Mariners operated like an object not easily stopped, going on to score two more touchdowns enroute to a 42-0 shutout.
“It’s great. Two shutouts already? Mariners football is back — a new era,” said senior running back Tommy Murray, who received short passes and carried for significant gains including the Mariners’ final touchdown with less than a minute remaining in the game. “I think our coaches made the right calls and I’m behind them 100 percent. Whatever they tell me to do I’m going to do it.”
Toward the end of the third period a fight broke out on the field on the Mariners’ side of the play. Though a number of players eventually became involved, the principle violence appeared to have transpired between St. Monica senior wide receiver Raul Ramos and Lucerne Valley sophomore defensive back Alondre Logan.
Following the play and a 15-minute delay, four players were ejected including Lucerne Valley junior linebacker David Spann and junior defensive linemen Jaon Lopez and Daniel Juaregi.
“The team we played tonight had no class whatsoever,” said Lucerne Valley coach Chris Klinger. “There was incredibly bad sportsmanship and a complete lack of character on the sidelines. It was the worst experience I’ve ever had with another football team.”
He felt that the officiating of the game had been tainted. He couldn’t understand why more of his players were ejected than from St. Monica.
“I feel like my team acted with class and with character and tried to break the fight up and do the right thing, but we still had three ejections,” Klinger said. “It makes me wonder what the officials are doing and getting paid or what.
Opinions on the St. Monica side were similarly self-defensive.
“I was very disappointed in the performance of their team, to be honest. They cut us three times on the kickoff and that’s just not good. It was tough for our guys,” Muno said after the game. “It was what it was but certainly you never like to see a game deteriorate to where kids are being ejected. It really tries your patience and your discipline, and I think our kids showed a lot of discipline in not reacting. I think we handled it pretty well.”