The sequel was a success again for Saint Louis and not much fun for Narbonne.
It wasn’t quite so thrilling, but the Crusaders’ 47-7 rout of Narbonne (Harbor City, Calif.) could be filed under the clinical documentary category. For all four quarters, Saint Louis was relentless defensively, allowing only a 10-yard fake-field goal run by Steve Jenkins — the pigskin was arguably outside of the pylon as he leaped — in an otherwise stellar performance.
Saint Louis entered the game ranked No. 1 in the Star-Advertiser Football Top 10 and No. 12 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25, as well as No. 14 by USA Today. Narbonne began the season ranked No. 24 in the Xcellent 25.
Last year’s 56-50 aerial circus, won by Saint Louis en route to its second state title in a row, bore no resemblance to this battle. Narbonne’s sophomore quarterback, Jaylen Henderson, threw three picks in the first half and was sacked five times.
“Saint Louis had size and speed coming at my sophomore quarterback (Henderson). He was just a little bit rattled and the game was fast. He got pressured and couldn’t make the throws, and that’s a credit to Saint Louis,” Gauchos coach Manuel Douglas said. “Henderson didn’t start as a JV quarterback last year.”
With some of Narbonne’s best players sidelined for five games — a CIF transfer rule — Henderson and his teammates made the best of it against a veteran Crusader defense led by defensive tackle Faatui Tuitele. The Gauchos finished with 32 rushing yards on 25 carries. Henderson and freshman Ashley Tucker Jr. were a combined 12-for-26, 125 yards.
“We’ve got to find ourselves a little bit. We’re a little bit inexperienced. The kid who’s my starter (quarterback Jake Garcia) has to sit out the first five games,” Douglas said, referring to the CIF’s transfer rule. “I’m not saying we would’ve won, but we would’ve done a better job throwing the ball, and they loaded up and blitzed us. They’re better than us. ”
When Narbonne visited last year, they already had four games under their belts.
“It’s our first game of the year, and it’s a learning lesson. That’s why we play these teams. There’s plenty of blame to go around and we’re not going to do that. We’re working toward our 15th game,” Douglas said.
Last year, Narbonne was 2-3 after the high-scoring loss at Aloha Stadium, then ran the table with 10 wins to take the CIF Single-A crown.
The visitors were in all-white uniforms from top to bottom with last year’s senior-heavy squad. They wore goldenrod yellow helmets and pants this time, a very Green Bay Packers kind of look.
“That’s old-school Narbonne. We went throwback. I wish we would’ve christened it with a win or at least a competitive game,” Douglas said. “I feel like we’ll turn it around. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. We want to start better than we did tonight, but hat’s off to them. They did a great job and they’re a better team than they were last year. More physical, bigger size. Our speed was evident, but they did a good job corralling us. A couple of times we were able to get out there, but they overwhelmed us.”