Friday night’s Daily Journal Game of the Week should serve as an interesting experiment — one that looks into what a blowout does to two different football teams.
Under the lights in South San Francisco, the Warriors will be the team trying to bounce back from one.
And on the other sideline, Burlingame High School will be the team bouncing around with a lot of swagger after back to back shellings of the opposition.
Needless to say, with so much to prove, emotions and adrenaline will be high when the ball gets kicked off at 7 p.m.
“We have been fortunate enough to get off to good starts,” said Burlingame head coach John Philipopoulos. “We’ve had big plays in the kicking game. We’ve scored early. We’ve created turnovers. We’ve played pretty decent football for four quarters. It’s a combination of a number of things. We’re hoping we can keep working and the trend continues.”
“We worked hard this week,” said South City head coach Frank Moro. “I’m tired. Our guys responded well to it. We took it as a learning experience. It was pouring rain on Saturday (after Friday’s loss) and we were out there practicing. What I thought we had to do was go back to teaching.”
It’s been a long time since Moro and the Warriors have been manhandled like they were last Friday against Half Moon Bay. Usually the more aggressive and physical of the teams they play, South City ran into an inspired Cougars team who took it to the Warriors from the opening kickoff. After five plays, Half Moon Bay was up 7-0 and by the half, they added four more scores.
“We looked at the film (after the game) and we got beat up,” Moro said. “We got pushed around and that usually doesn’t happen. And I looked at the film, it started up front with the lines. You look at it, we started four out of five underclassmen on the offensive line. And a lot of those guys are going both ways so, we had some problems getting ready for the football game. We had some problems when things got physical, we didn’t know what do to and it showed.”
When the dust settled, the Cougars had rushed for 453 yards on a team that prides itself on stomping out the run.
“We just got punched and didn’t know what to do,” Moro said. “And we don’t have the experience to know how to react to that.”
On the other end, the Panthers didn’t let a bye week slow down their initial momentum. After dismantling Mountain View in Week 1, the thought was that perhaps Burlingame would hit a lull and thwart such a positive start.
“We were a little (concerned),” Philipopoulos said. “Because the bye was so early, that two week wait felt like two months to me. That time kind of drags a little bit. But, our kids, they’re resilient and did a great job. It didn’t effect them one way or another. We took advantage of that time.”
Indeed they did. Burlinagame jumped all over Gunderson and controlled all facets of the game. Offensively, Manese Palu and Keoni Keahi showed explosion for the Panthers who tallied 301 yards of total offense to go with another touchdown on special teams.
So again, with so much too prove, the key to Friday night’s game might be what team handles that pressure the best.
“I told the guys straight up,” Philipopoulos said, “South City High School does not lose football games like that. That’s not who they are. That’s not what they do. That’s not what they’re accustomed to. And you can bet your bottom dollar they’re going to come out firing on all cylinders. If you walk in there feeling all high and mighty because we’re 2-0, we’re going to be in for a rude awakening.I know South City is going to come out swinging. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us tomorrow.”
Moro echoed the same sentiment.
“They know that Burlingame is coming ready to play,” Moro said. “Burlingame is going to be similar to Half Moon Bay in that they’re going to be fundamentally sound. They’re going to run and block as hard as they can. Get on the right guy. Not make any mistakes.We went over everything again. We spent a lot of time in practice trying to get a little more confident and a little bit more healthy.”
“The biggest key for us is our offensive line,” Philipopoulos said. “Being able to handle their size and athleticism up front is going to be a challenge for us. And just taking care of the ball. We don’t want to turn the ball over and give them momentum.”
“I want to come out of this game playing fundamentally sound,” Moro said. “We’re going to go forward and spend more time in their backfield than they spend in ours. That’s the key right there. We have to spend more time in their backfield.”