The Crusaders began a new traditions of breaking cinder blocks after big plays. After a quiet first week, they finally had some in a 49-26 win.
Clumps of cement on the Memorial Stadium sideline were telling signs of Eastside Catholic’s performance Saturday night.
The top-ranked Crusaders started a new tradition of smashing cinder blocks after big plays. The blocks survived the anticipated season-opener against Oaks Christian in Week 1. That was rectified against Oregon’s Central Catholic.
Eastside had three defensive plays it deemed worthy of busting up a cinder block, players gathering around to witness the quick smash on the sideline. The biggest celebration was for the 49-26 win that capped the fourth-annual Memorial Football Classic.
“It feels amazing,” Eastside junior Sam Adams II said of smashing a block after his interception in the third quarter. “From that, the energy just shoots up. And it means everything to be able to bounce back from last week. Because that (loss) took us off the map a little bit. We needed to get back to where we want to be.”
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Oaks Christian is regarded by multiple websites as one of the top-20 high-school programs in the nation. The Lions (4-0) defeated the Crusaders 35-12 as part of the Honor Bowl in San Diego.
Eastside (1-1) debuted a new quarterback in junior Michael Franklin. His first score was a 26-yard touchdown pass to four-star receiver Gee Scott Jr., who used a one-handed grab to make the score.
The Rams (0-2) responded with a short run from junior Elijah Elliott with 3:09 left in the opening quarter to even the score at seven points each. Franklin reeled off touchdown passes to Scott, Adams and junior DJ Rogers to help Eastside take a 28-13 lead into the break.
“It was a big game for him to get some confidence,” Eastside coach Jeremy Thielbahr said of Franklin, who was 8-of-13 passing for 110 yards, one interception and four touchdowns.
“Last week was so out of our norm, and we played so poorly,” Thielbahr continued. “We’re still searching for who we are, but I think we found out a little bit about ourselves (Saturday). We like what we see.”
Eastside sophomore JT Tuimoloau, a five-star defensive end, started the cinder-block party with a blocked punt recovery in the second quarter. Franklin used the short field to throw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Rogers.
“This was a really humbling week of practice,” Scott said. “Being back out here was a great thing. This was a roll game and now I feel like we’ll be on a roll and anyone who gets in our way is going to get the same results. That’s our mindset.”