Malibu High School loses football opener

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The Sharks lose to Rio Hondo Preparatory, 35-6

By Hans Laetz / Special to The Malibu Times

It was the toughest team they would face this season and they had already given up 35 points. But with three minutes remaining in the game, the Malibu High School football Sharks refused to give up late Saturday afternoon.

Sparked by a key fumble recovery by defensive lineman Jake Jesson, the Sharks dug in, earned their first three first downs of the year and drove 35 yards to score their first touchdown of the 2005 season against Rio Hondo Preparatory Academy of Arcadia.

The 35-6 loss marked a pair of firsts: starting Malibu quarterback Bennett Sherman had never played in a tackle football game before and it was Ray Humphrey’s first game as the new Sharks head coach.

The score came when Sherman found running back Miles Edman running a cross pattern up the middle. Sherman’s pass hit a Rio Hondo player’s head and bounced into the air. But Sherman came down with the ball, reversed his field and ran to the right corner for the Sharks’ lone score.

“That was a play coach put in this week, and we had been working on it,” Sherman said. “That was the whole purpose of the play.”

The game-ending touchdown put a happy ending on an otherwise bleak opening-season game. Rio Hondo kept the Sharks from penetrating its 35-yard-line for nearly the whole game.

“I’m happy with these kids, they did not give up,” Humphrey said.

Players appeared unfazed by the defeat. They had been told that the Rio Hondo team, ranked third in their CIF Division, would be the hardest game of the year.

“We’ve lost our first games for three years in a row,” Edman said. “And last year we went on to win 10 straight.”

Edman, who also plays defensive back, emerged as the go-to man for Sherman. Along with wide receiver Miles Booth, the Sharks’ “Two Miles” offense was generally effective at gaining a few yards each down.

But Rio Hondo’s squad, which went undefeated as a JV team two years ago, ruled the turf for the first 45 minutes of the game by grinding through the Shark defensive line. Will Torrico’s three touchdown passes were all for less than 20 yards.

“There were a lot of missed blocks and there were a lot of missed tackles,” Humphrey said. “We can fix that.”

Humphrey said he was especially pleased with Ross Ellis, who stepped up to fill in as tight end, linebacker and other positions. “Heck, he played them all, because we needed it all,” the coach said.

Malibu’s junior varsity squad had an equally bleak opener, losing 37-0 to the Rio Hondo Preparatory JV team earlier in the day.

“But that’s OK,” Athletic Director Alfredo Silva said. “These teams have lost a lot of games and have always bounced back.”

Next week’s games are at Ribet Academy, located at 2911 San Fernando Road in Atwater Village. The JV team plays at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday and the varsity game is at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.