Sometimes the best adjustments a coach can make are the ones where they toss the game plan aside, and go with their gut.
This was the case after Clovis West coach George Petrissans casted out his weeklong offensive gameplan down 14-3 at halftime and got back to basics – and it worked to perfection as the Golden Eagles exploded for 21 points in the third quarter and a 33-3 whirlwind of a second half for a 36-17 win over Buchanan (5-2) to improve to 6-1 on the season.
“Sometimes you just over prepare and start thinking outside the box to gain an advantage, and it just wasn’t our personality,” said Petrissans about the staff’s preparation for Buchanan and decision to scrap it. “We couldn’t get our flow like we wanted to, it took us out of our rhythm.”
The Golden Eagles used a two tight end set for most of the first half – usually they spread five receivers wide – trying to neutralize Buchanan’s blitz package and linebacking crew of Trevor Ervin and Keenan Wolf and linemen Reece Bacon, Matthew Merritt, and Toa Scanlan.
However, for a Clovis West offense that came in averaging 37 points per game, the new plan of attack led to only an Eli Riofrio field goal.
After two rushing touchdowns by Buchanan sophomore Kendall Milton, the last one with 21 seconds left in the half, the Bears had confidence and momentum heading into the second half with a pounding running game that includes senior Trevor Ervin. The rushing duo had combined for 28 touchdowns coming into the game.
That’s when Petrissans and his staff knew they had to make a change.
“We decided as a staff to go back to what we do best, it worked out better for us,” Petrissans added.
You bet it did, as the Golden Eagles exploded for three touchdowns in the third quarter, including two by Rodney Wright – who senior teammate D.J. Schramm calls “the most explosive player in the Valley” – all due to excellent field position caused by a fired up defense.
After forcing a three-and-out to open the half, Clovis West started at the 50-yard line with Wright eventually scoring on a sweep on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 7:24 left.
The defense then held strong again, led by linebackers D.J. and Dusty Schramm and Thomas Curran, and forced another three-and-out. On the very next play Wright struck again, taking a short pass from Dante Chachere and splitting two defenders for a 53-yard score to take the 17-14 lead.
“I’ve give all the credit to my blockers on the outside, I just read the blocks and went full speed,” Wright said.
After Buchanan tied the game on a 26-yard field, Clovis West would go ahead for good on a perfectly placed 27-yard touchdown pass from Chachere to Ricardo Arias to go up 24-17 with 1:36 left in the third quarter.
“When you’re down 11 points and things are not working out like you thought, it can be unnerving,” said Petrissans, in his fourth year as head coach. “I’m just proud of them for responding to the adversity.”
In the fourth quarter, Clovis West added a safety, a 29-yard Riofrio field goal and an interception returned 60 yards for a touchdown by Jaylon Parrish.
“We came together as a team, and to win the TRAC we needed this victory,” said Wright.
Clovis West and Central (6-1) face off Thursday, Oct. 26 at Lamonica Stadium for what looks like will be for the TRAC title.