LATHROP — Central Catholic wasn’t at its best, but neither was Lathrop in their Valley Oak League contest Friday night.
The difference is that Central Catholic can make up for its mistakes with superior experience and talent. Lathrop, though, battled valiantly in a 44-6 loss to one of the state’s elite programs. Three of the Raiders’ other four victories were by wider margins.
“The score is going to reflect poorly, but they played hard the entire game,” Lathrop coach Joey Pirillo said. “They played their tails off the entire game, we just need to clean up our mental mistakes because we made way too many today.”
Central Catholic (2-0 VOL, 5-0 overall) — ranked second on the Cal-Hi Sports Division III poll — ran just six offensive plays from scrimmage by the start of the second quarter when it led, 28-0.
The Raiders were buoyed by three big plays in the opening period: a 56-yard pass completion from Hunter Petlansky to Daron Bland that was initially tipped by Lathrop cornerback Brian Terrell, a 40-yard pick-six from Bland and linebacker Kekupaa Freehauf’s 40-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
“Giving them 14 points on the offensive end was tough,” Pirillo said.
Central Catholic didn’t score another touchdown until Montell Bland’s 11-yard scamper with 47 seconds remaining in the third quarter, making it 38-0.
Lathrop answered with its only points on the following drive. On third-and-11, Terrell evaded several Central Catholic defenders on a draw play and sprinted 74 yards with no time left in the third. The speedy senior accounted for most of the Spartans’ offense, finishing with 125 yards on 10 rushes to go with 12 receiving yards.
Terrell also starts at corner back and is turning out to be one of the area’s top playmakers on both sides of scrimmage. He missed his entire junior year and the team’s 2015 opener after transferring from Sierra.
“Brian is a kid that has been dying to get on this field for so long and it’s just so exciting to see him play,” Pirillo said. “He’s a kid that will do anything for you. The kid’s talented, he’s very talented. Anytime we put the ball in his hands special things can happen. I love what Brian is doing. I love what all of our guys is doing.”
Central Catholic outgained the Spartans 388-216 and was led by Fresno State-bound running back Justin Rice (12 rushes, 159 yards, two touchdowns). Petlansky was 8 of 14 passing for 106 yards. He also caught a pass for 16 yards and rushed nine times for 60 yards and a touchdown.
The Raiders defense forced four turnovers, two of them interceptions from Daron Bland. His second pick was in the end zone as Central Catholic held on Lathrop’s only trip in the red zone.
“They did a good job, their coaches did a good job,” Central Catholic coach Roger Canepa said of Lathrop. “We did what we had to do. It wasn’t the best effort we’ve given this year but the key is to just keep on winning. When you’re not playing good you just have to keep moving through the schedule. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”