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Padecky: Casa Grande faces Miramonte's scoring machine


ORINDA — Oops, there they go again, so begin the whispers alongside the sideline. Miramonte is passing and running and sprinting all over the place. It's like a jailbreak to the end zone every time the Matadors get the ball on offense. We gotta do something, defensive coordinators think to themselves.

So this is what that fear creates.

Last week Clayton Valley, a heavy favorite to beat Miramonte in a Division 2 semifinal, tried four onside kicks. Earlier in the year, Northgate tried five onsides. All were done with one purpose in mind: Recover the ball and keep it away from the Miramonte's offense.

It's an act of desperation well-rooted in common sense. Miramonte ran the ball 338 times this season and averaged 5.66 yards a carry. Miramonte averaged 15.5 yards every time they completed a pass and there were 241 of those.

"Usually the only way we don't score," running back Ray Clark said, "is when we stop ourselves. The way things have been clicking for us, I don't see any defense that can really hold us in check for four quarters."

As the old saw goes, it ain't bragging if you can do it. And Miramonte can do it. The Mats are averaging 54.7 points a game in the playoffs. The Mats have two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard running back. Quarterback Drew Anderson has thrown for 3,635 yards and 42 touchdowns.

What amazes Miramonte coach Jack Schram is not that his team has scored more than 50 points in four games this season or the 66 touchdowns or the 5,651 yards of total offense. What amazes Schram is that Anderson doesn't have multiple offers from NCAA Division I universities.

"I think he's the best quarterback in Northern California as far as a pure passer goes," Schram said.

"He's not in the RG3 (Robert Griffin III) mold. He's more in the Tom Brady mold. If there's any college that's looking for a pure passer, Drew is it."

Watching Miramonte practice Tuesday, I was struck by how Anderson looked so much like Cardinal Newman quarterback Keaton Dunsford.

At 6-foot-4, 200, Anderson has the same lanky, physical profile. His delivery of the pass, Anderson has the same smooth, fluid motion as Dunsford. Anderson could have been wearing Newman's colors and I would have thought it was Dunsford.

His ball spun with the same tight spiral as Dunsford's.

Saturday's game for the NCS Division 2 title figures to have a final score with many crooked numbers in it.

Fact: Miramonte has just 48 more yards of total offense this season than Casa Grande. While Anderson may be in the Tom Brady mold, Casa quarterback JaJuan Lawson is in the RG3 mold.

Miramonte is well aware of Lawson and his game-changing ability.

Schram has seen one Casa game in person and another three games on film. Casa can change a game in a hurry and it is no secret Casa's offense has seen for itself fear from across the line of scrimmage.

That said, Casa will see no fear this Saturday.

"Going into the Clayton Valley game," said Clark, who has rushed for 1,401 yards and 18 touchdowns, "we kept reading blogs that said Miramonte is too small and Clayton Valley is bigger and would be too physical for us. ... and then we took it to them."

Anderson admits Miramonte is not stacked with behemoths.

"We are small, very small," Anderson said. "We have a couple of 160-pound defensive linemen."

But as another old saw goes, it's not the size of the dog that matters as much as the fight inside the dog that counts. And for those who remember last week's Casa-Montgomery game, this game is eerily similar to the last one.

Casa Grande turned a 14-13 halftime lead into a rout by pounding and pounding the smaller Vikings.

That the Gauchos would try the same thing this Saturday against Miramonte, well, and this is just a guess, HECK YEAH.

Well, all right then, Miramonte says.

The Mats are no stranger to long odds or big games or playing under pressure. Fact is, Miramonte has much more experience in it than Casa Grande. Miramonte has won nine NCS titles and 21 league championships, and was voted by Cal-Hi Sports in 1983 and 2003 as the mythical state champion.

You'd think such banners on the gym wall would be a very proud boast that the Mats would openly display.

And you would be wrong.

Miramonte's football banners are not available to be seen by the public. The banners are not on a gym wall but on the locker room wall. Only the players see them. This is not by accident.

"It's meant to be personal," Schram said. The banners are there for the players to see each day, to see what's been accomplished, to tell them how significant the past has been and how it's not irrelevant.

"It's a daily reminder for us," Anderson said. "It reminds us of what is expected. It reminds us how proud we should be. And how we want to leave our mark."

And how, at the very least, and no matter what, Saturday's Casa-Miramonte game will not be a snoozer.

No one has ever fallen asleep watching a jailbreak, no matter who's running it.

You can reach Staff Columnist Bob Padecky at 521-5223 or bob.padecky@pressdemocrat.com.