The host Cougars, using size, speed and toughness with a previously unseen offensive wrinkle, whipped the Dogs 41-7 in the final non-league game of the prep season.
“We look at this as the end of our pre-season and would have liked it to have gone a lot better than this. We finished up 3-2 and look ahead now to our league games,” said Pointer head coach Mike Hastings after the game.
The Pointers head into their annual bye week with their two losses so far this season coming against quality teams who provided vivid examples of the level the Pointers will need to reach to succeed in CIF playoffs beginning next month.
The bye week comes as a welcome opportunity for a Point Loma team that includes a large group of walking wounded and others who have missed one or more games.
Against Steele Canyon, a 51-yard punt return by Matt Magers produced the only Pointer points of the evening, but that was with the Cougars already sitting on a comfortable 34-0 third-quarter lead.
How dominant were the Cougars?
Through four games, the Pointers offensively were averaging 241 yards per game rushing and 131 per game through the air for a weekly average of 372 total yards. Against Steele Canyon, the Pointers managed 68 yards rushing and 17 passing for a total of just 85 yards, 287 yards below their per-game average.
And on offense, the Cougars unveiled a first-half “wildcat” formation where aptly named running back Lonnie Tuff received the snap. Tuff alone carried 24 times for 203 yards and touchdowns of five, six and 47 yards, often refusing to go down and avoiding Pointer tacklers.
The second quarter provided glimpses of the Pointers’ frustrations.
With his team down 14-0 in the second quarter, Pointer quarterback Sam Augustine was blindsided while setting up to pass, the ball bouncing into the right flat. An opportunistic Cougar defender scooped up the loose ball and sprinted 20 yards to up the lead to 20-0.
Later, when the Cougars moved the ball to the visitors’ eight yard line, every coach on the Pointer bench knew the next play Steele Canyon would run.
“Watch the pass into the corner! (of the end zone),” coaches yelled to their defenders. “Here it comes, pass into the corner!”
Sure enough, the ball was thrown up for grabs. But the Cougar target towered 6’3” while the Pointer defender at 5’10” was at a disadvantage. Both leaped for the ball, with the defender actually getting a hand on it, but when the two bodies fell to the turf, it was the taller Cougar who was clutching the ball for a 27-0 halftime lead.
Again, penalty flags proved a Pointer nemesis, with numerous lack-of-concentration punishments for offsides, illegal procedure and encroachment. The Cougars used these and other penalties to their advantage.
“We had a lot of penalties and mental errors,” Hastings said. “It’s unfortunate. This type of game is not our best performance.
“We have an opportunity during our bye week to get healthy, work on our fundamentals, come after Hoover for Homecoming and get ready to take our first steps toward a Western League championship,” he said.
BITS ’N’ BITES:
• The school’s 86th Homecoming will again be played under rented lights. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14 against the Cardinals.
• Steele Canyon accomplished an uncommon feat, defeating all three Pointer football teams including the JV (35-21) and freshman (35-7) Dogs.
• The Pointer JV’s record is now 2-3 while the Freshman stand at 3-2.
• Pointer varsity players are wearing three memorial decals on their helmets this season: “MT” honors former teammate Michael Taylor,whose life was taken nearly three years ago and “BH” honors Hastings’ father and former Pointer assistant coach Bill Hastings, who passed away just after last season ended. The third decal, “12-6” recalls the irony that both Taylor and Hastings passed away on Dec. 6 although two years apart.
• Both the JV and freshman locker rooms are undergoing a much-needed (and long-delayed) replacement of lockers.