Perhaps the most important timeout Crespi Coach Bill Redell called this season came not on the field but in his office after his football team's 38-32 victory over Riverside Poly in the first round of the Big Five Conference playoffs nine days ago.
Redell wrapped up a brief postgame meeting with his players then turned his attention to a more pressing problem--himself and the coaching staff.
"In the Riverside Poly game, we as a coaching staff lost our poise, me included," he said Saturday. "Panic isn't the right word, but we weren't as good as we could be. Lots of times coaches blame players and don't take a look at themselves. It's good to go through that self-analysis."
That two-hour, late-night meeting did not put points on the scoreboard or stop opposing running backs, but Redell called it an important aspect of Friday's 45-38 win over Servite.
"We had a better week of practice and our sideline coaching was improved, me as much as anybody," he said. "We needed to be alert to what was happening. Things were a lot smoother."
Crespi needed every edge it could muster to survive the quarterfinal round of the playoffs and beat talented Servite and its extraordinarily talented running back Derek Brown.
Brown, a junior, gained 216 yards in 22 carries and scored 4 times, yet he was outgained by Crespi's Russell White, who rushed for 251 yards in 32 carries and scored 4 touchdowns. White, also a junior, and Crespi (10-1-1) move into next week's semifinals, playing at Fontana (12-0), the conference's top-seeded team.
Crespi might have faced an early exit from the playoffs if not for the emergency coaches' meeting that lasted beyond 1 a.m. and forced the cancellation of the traditional postgame party at a local restaurant.
"We usually head to La Fiesta, but by the time we made it, there was nobody there," Redell said.
But the time was well-spent. Crespi's sideline operation needed a tuneup.
"We had to be more specific about our duties during the game," Redell said. "Everyone's intentions were good, but we were overlapping into each other's responsibilities."
Redell faulted himself and assistant Kermit Alexander, as an example, for giving too much input to offensive coordinator Jim Benkert, who calls the plays. "I had to make sure me and Kermit weren't throwing too much at Benkert so he could think," he said.
"This wasn't a balling out. All the coaches received it well. We had to remind ourselves we were teachers and to encourage the players and motivate them."
Crespi setback: Wide receiver Eric Kieling left Friday's game in the second quarter after his only catch of the game, a nine-yard reception over the middle that he doesn't remember making. Kieling, t he Celts' leading receiver, was sandwiched between two Servite defensive backs and suffered a concussion and bruised back. He said Saturday he will miss next week's game but will return if Crespi qualifies for the Big Five Conference championship game.
"I remember getting hit, but I don't remember making the catch," he said. "The next thing I remembered was walking off the field. It hurt to breathe. I'm just glad I'm not in a wheelchair."
Kieling was injured on the same pattern in the team's final regular-season game, a 38-21 win over St. John Bosco. The play is a quick slant over the middle called 818 in the Crespi playbook.
Kieling took an elbow in the face against St. John Bosco and lost the bottom halves of his two front teeth. He swallowed one half and spit the other out on the field. He since has had the teeth capped.
"Those slant patterns will get you every time," he said. "I don't want to hear that number again. I want to run some out patterns."
The coach's choice: Redell was impressed with Brown, Servite's junior running back, calling him the best back Crespi's faced this season. Brown, 5-10, 175 pounds, set the school rushing record with 1,483 yards this season.
But Redell said Brown still is no Russell White, who has rushed for 2,114 yards.
"He had a heck of a game against us, but there's no comparison with Russell. He's bigger, faster and stronger. That sounds egotistical but it's not, and I'm not putting the kid down. But he's not in the same league with Russell."
Welch won't kick: Canyon Coach Harry Welch hates field goals. Over the past two seasons, Canyon has attempted only seven, despite the presence of Tom Gahry, one of the area's most accurate placekickers. Gahry was the Golden League's first-team kicker last season and has made 37 consecutive conversion kicks.
But Welch kicks up a fuss when his teams are forced to kick. It's a simple question of mathematics.
"Why go for three when you can get seven?" he said "I'm not a math major but that makes sense to me."
Welch also believes there is a psychological advantage to going for a touchdown or first down rather than a field goal.