Last week, Gonzaga football traveled to Baltimore to take on one of the top teams that city has to offer, and came home with a 38-0 victory over Gilman.
The Eagles found themselves with an opposite outcome Friday, as Gonzaga hosted one of Florida’s top teams, Viera High. The Eagles offense struggled to get going under the new lights at Buchanan Field, and the defense spent the night struggling to keep up, as Viera cruised to a 21-6 victory.
“A year ago we were fortunate enough to get a victory from an excellent football team in [Viera],” Gonzaga Coach Randy Trivers said. “This year they got us.”
The Hawks’ 6-foot-4 senior quarterback, Tim DeMorat, picked apart the Eagles defense within Viera West Coast-style offense, completing 31 of 46 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns.
“No excuses,” Trivers said. “Those guys did a great job and they came up here and beat us in every phase — offense, defense and special teams.”
The Eagles experienced plenty of roster turnover over the offseason, losing standout running back Tyree Randolph along with leading receiver Max Fisher and starting quarterback Sam Brown to graduation.
They have a freshman under center in Caleb Williams, who made his share of mistakes but also flashed upside with both his arm and his legs. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 207 yards, and scampered up the middle on one read-option play for 25 yards. The Eagles weren’t able to establish any sort of rhythm with the run game, however, and there weren’t many holes for senior tailback Jason Labbe to run through.
“This is a wake-up call for us,” said Labbe, who had 11 carries for 27 yards and hauled in two passes for 15 yards. “They came out there ready to play and we’re just going to learn from this week, practice tomorrow and take advantage of the opportunity and get ready for next week.”
The Eagles travel to Pennsylvania to take on the Peddie School next Friday, before hosting Georgetown Prep and Avalon in the following two weeks to complete their out-of-conference play, a portion of their schedule that is tough by design.
“One of the reasons why we want to schedule good teams is to prepare for teams in [the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference],” Trivers said. “There is no doubt [Viera] is a formidable opponent.”
Early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles blocked a punt that set them up well into Viera territory, but the opportunity was squandered the following play on a botched handoff that resulted in a Viera fumble recovery. After the game, Trivers delivered a message of accountability and unity.
“We need to stick together as a program,” Trivers said he told his team. “Whenever you have setbacks, you have things that don’t go your way, it’s very easy to point fingers and place blame on others. It’s important in these times that you stick together, and everybody’s got to be accountable. All the coaches, all the players, everybody in the program has got to look within in himself to say, ‘What can I do to help my team get better?’ ”
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