You know it's going to be a rough night when:
--Your quarterback, one of three returning starters on offense, fumbles his first snap from center at his own 15-yard line and the opponent recovers.
--That same quarterback drops back on his second play from scrimmage, throws a long pass to his favorite receiver and is intercepted.
--You're trailing by 10 points before your offense has moved forward, and, when your star fullback finally accomplishes the feat with a three-yard gain late in the first period he limps off the field with an ankle injury.
Marina High School suffered such misfortunes and more in Thursday night's 17-0 loss to Esperanza in the season opener in front of 2,000 at Valencia High School.
The Vikings were never in this game. The Aztec defense wouldn't let them.
Marina quarterback Rick Vanderriet, who passed for 1,024 yards last season, threw eight passes Thursday. Seven fell incomplete and the other was intercepted. This was the same Vanderriet who burned the Aztecs for touchdown passes of 46 and 65 yards in last season's 21-7 victory.
The Vikings had two scoring opportunities, the first ending late in the third period when John Sims fumbled at the Esperanza 35-yard line and the second ending in the fourth period when the Aztecs stopped Sims for no gain on fourth and five from the Esperanza 26.
It wasn't exactly the warmest of welcomes for Viking Coach Chris Ramsey, who had spent seven years as a high school and college coach in Georgia before coming to Orange County this summer to replace Dave Thompson.
The victory marked the first as a head coach for Esperanza's Gary Meek, who had replaced Pete Yoder five days before practice this summer when Yoder took an administrative job at the school.
New coach. Same old Aztecs.
In typical Esperanza fashion, the Aztecs of 1986 are a team with a huge offensive line, which averages 230 pounds per man, an outstanding tailback in Mike Miscione and a mobile quarterback with a strong arm in Mike Moneymaker.
All three played major roles in Thursday's victory. Moneymaker completed 8 of 13 passes for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 72-yard play to Don Herrick with 5:47 left in the second period that gave the Aztecs a 17-0 cushion.
Miscione, who ran for 765 yards in 1985, got off to a good start, rushing for 115 yards in 24 carries and catching a 4-yard touchdown pass from Moneymaker in the first quarter.
The line of Rob Schriever, Chris Callinan, Jim Short, Toby Kirscke and James Rae made it all possible by protecting the quarterback and opening holes for the running back.
About the only thing that prevented Esperanza from winning by a more lopsided margin was the three fumbles the Aztecs lost, two of them in the second half.
The Marina defense, a defense in name only during the first half, made a respectable second-half showing, shutting out the Aztecs for the final two periods. And Viking fullback Sean Magula shook off his early injury and returned to gain 105 yards in 14 carries.
But those were the only bright spots.
"I should have better prepared the football team," Ramsey said. "We're young, especially in the line. We just have to grow up a bit."
After Esperanza's Dean Sage recovered Vanderriet's first fumble, Brian Aube kicked a 29-yard field goal to give the Aztecs a 3-0 lead. On Marina's next possession, Vanderriet went long down the right side to Brian Sterzer, but Herrick was there to pick it off.
"We felt they were going to go up on us, and we worked on that all week," Meek said. "Herrick was having nightmares from last year's game--he was beat twice on those long passes--I was sure glad he was able to pick that one off."