In their first MCAL regular season game, the Terra Linda Trojans Varsity Football team showed they were serious about becoming future contenders in the MCAL League, demonstrating flashes of brilliance and solid playmaking on both offense and defense.
Terra Linda played and won their homecoming game against the Drake Pirates, 47-13, with help from wide receiver/defensive back Robert Simkins, who led Terra Linda’s scoring with two receiving touchdowns and two picks that he ran in for another two touchdowns.
“If we execute, we’ll win,” said Simkins following the Drake drubbing. All of the pieces were there for the Trojans this season, they just had to put them together — and as Simkins surmised, execute. This was the case in many games this season, improving their record from 4-7 (3-4 league) in 2015 to 5-6 (4-3 league) this season.
The Trojans did perform and show up in this game, coming out of the gate aggressively by scoring a touchdown within their first two plays on offense.
This season, the Trojans were led by their first-year coach, Rich Cotruvo, who spent his previous 19 years coaching at one of Terra Linda’s MCAL rivals, Justin-Siena. “I expect our players to play hard and compete against any opponent all season long. Whether the score is in our favor or not, I want them to compete,” said Cotruvo.
The Trojan’s controlled energy was on display this game, with Terra Linda committing no turnovers in their first four possessions, and not allowing Drake to score in their first six possessions, and nearly the entire first half.
In their first-half dominance, the Trojans defense only allowed three total rushing yards, and paired that with a three-yard sack by sophomore linebacker Jackson Zabierek in Drake’s first possession. Drake punted and the Trojans got the ball at their own 21-yard line. Then quarterback Matt Peters handed the ball off to running back Dominic Martinez twice, who ran for a 19-yard gain, then a 60-yard touchdown. Terra Linda was leading 7-0 after kicker Andres Flores-Plasencia made the extra point.
The Trojan defense went back to work, forcing another Drake punt, which allowed the TL offense to capitalize with Peters leading a 60-yard drive and throwing a three-yard touchdown pass to running back Anthony Moreno for the score. Flores-Plasencia missed the extra point, but the Trojans led 13-0, ending the scoring for the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Drake was stopped and forced to punt again, and the Trojans got the ball at their 18-yard line. In this drive, TL junior Martinez led the way with a 31-yard run and a 43-yard screen reception for a touchdown. Terra Linda tried for a two-point conversion, but failed and led 19-0.
On the first play of Drake’s next drive, quarterback Jesse Alonso attempted a pass in the backfield to wide receiver Jensen Yamane, but it was dropped and scooped up at the two-yard line by linebacker Moreno. The Trojans then got a five-yard penalty for an illegal formation, but still scored on a seven yard pass to Simkins. This time, Flores-Plasencia’s extra point was good, and the rout was on with the Trojans leading 26-0.
Drake’s next possession showed signs of life with a drive up the field, but Alonso threw an interception to Simkins, returning the ball 52 yards for a pick six. Flores-Plasencia’s extra point went through the uprights to put the Trojans up 33-0.
The Pirates were on the move up field once again, but the drive ended when the ball was fumbled on a handoff and recovered by Trojans defensive lineman Sebastian Key. The Trojans marched upfield on another great drive, but fumbled the ball on a handoff which was recovered by Drake. However, this defensive stop by Drake was short lived, as Alonso threw another interception to Simkins who sprinted into the end zone for a 30-yard pick six.
Near the tail end of the second quarter, Drake finally scored on a four yard pass to Yamane, making the extra point. The squads headed to the locker room on this clear and hot afternoon with the Trojans dominating 40-7.
Following TL’s halftime homecoming court festivities, on the Trojans opening drive of the second half, Peters connected with Simkins for a 67-yard touchdown pass to put the Trojans up 47-7.
Late in the fourth quarter, Alonso threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to Yamane, who beat the Trojans defense in a foot race to the end zone. The Pirates went for the two point conversion, but the Trojan defense put an end to that, ending the scoring and bringing the game to a close with a 47-13 final.
Trojan head coach Cotruvo was upbeat following the win. “I bring experience, a plan, and enthusiasm [to the team this year],” said Cotruvo. These qualities were clearly on display in their Drake blowout, and along with Cotruvo’s new veer offense, the Trojans made a statement in 2016.
Overall, the Trojans still have a lot to improve for upcoming seasons, but they have the potential to do very well in the near future with Cotruvo’s guidance and reshaping of the team.