Taft High offered few surprises against Birmingham on Friday night. The Toreadors relied on a familiar strategy for a 16-0 win: run and hit.
And the Toreadors were as punishing as they were predictable. Dominating the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense, Taft roughed up visiting Birmingham to stay atop the Sunset League standings.
The victory was Taft's (5-1) fourth in a row and third shutout in as many games.
The Toreadors, who remain unbeaten two games into league play, have won with a simple philosophy.
"All we do is run," Coach Tom Stevenson said. "We just do what we have to do to win."
Running back Terrance Britt did most of the running against Birmingham, carrying 24 times for 150 yards and 1 touchdown.
Birmingham, for its part, came at Taft with an equally predictable offense. The Braves throw about as often as they get their hands on the ball.
But quarterback Alan Sedacca, harried by a heavy rush, completed just 8 of 21 passes for 89 yards and 1 interception before leaving the game battered and bruised in the fourth quarter.
Birmingham wide receiver Jason Moore caught five of those passes for 71 yards. But that's all the Braves will have to look forward to when it comes time to watch the game films.
The score could have been more lopsided were it not for several fumbles and interceptions that stopped Taft drives.
For all intents and purposes, the game was settled in the second quarter. A Toreador blitz forced Sedacca to hurry a throw and Doug Kougher intercepted at the Taft eight-yard line.
Taft made the Braves pay for the error, driving 92 yards in 14 plays. Britt scored on a 17-yard misdirection run and the Toreadors led, 14-0.
Taft's offensive line--anchored by 6-3, 205-pound guard Mike Kimmel and 6-3, 215-pound tackle Aaron DiPadova--simply blew Birmingham off the line of scrimmage.
Earlier in the quarter, the Toreadors took advantage of a short punt by moving 40 yards in five plays for the game's first touchdown. Kelvin Byrd carried over from the 12.
Birmingham accumulated just 88 total yards in the first half. Kougher's interception ended the Braves only scoring threat of the game.
It wasn't as if Birmingham co-Coach Tom Richards didn't know what to expect.
"They are so physical," Richards said. "They play smash-mouth football."
Britt wasn't the only Toreador running back to benefit from "smash-mouth" blocking. Byrd carried 11 times for 75 yards and a touchdown. Marc Harris added 71 yards on 13 rushes.
About the only Toreador who did not play a good game was rarely used quarterback Rich Consentino, who completed only 2 of 7 passes for 35 yards and 2 interceptions.
But then, with a running team like Taft, that was predictable.