LA HABRA — Laguna Hills Coach Steve Bresnahan expects running back Mike Jones to be a marked man this season after Jones rolled up more than 2,300 yards in 1995.
Jones rushed for 105 yards and scored four second-quarter touchdowns Thursday in the eighth-ranked Hawks' 35-7 victory over Sonora. But Jones wasn't the only threat the Raiders faced.
Sonora (0-1) found that out the hard way, swarming all over Jones every time he had the ball--and too many times when he did not. Cory Pardoe, one of two quarterbacks used by Laguna Hills (1-0), rushed for 70 yards himself and passed for 64 more after faking to Jones.
"I believe we might have been [Division VIII] champions last year if we had been more diversified on offense," Bresnahan said. "You can't hide a talent like Jones; but in the first half we did everything we wanted to do. I thought we lost focus in the second half, so we still have some growing up to do."
While the Hawks got everything right in the first half, taking a 35-0 lead, the Raiders did almost everything wrong. Eight of their 11 penalties came in the initial 24 minutes. So did two key turnovers, which Laguna Hills converted into touchdowns.
The only bright spot for Sonora came in the third quarter. After Ramiro Troncoso intercepted a pass from Pardoe and returned it 16 yards to the Hawks' 30, the Raiders rumbled into the end zone seven plays later on a one-yard plunge by Uri Leyva.
"Laguna played real well on defense and offense and we just hurt ourselves," Raider Coach Mark Takkinen said. "Both they and Jones are as good as advertised."
The game got off to a disastrous start for Sonora. On a third-down pass play during the Raiders' first possession, quarterback Mario Caldera floated the ball out in the right flat. But instead of finding Gomez, Hawk defender Jeff Fischer intercepted at the 35 and ran it back to the end zone untouched.
"That gave us the confidence to relax on offense," Bresnahan said.
And Jones did not allow the Raiders to recover.
Jones began his big night by scoring from one yard out on the first play of the second quarter. After his defense forced a Raider punt, Pardoe faked a handoff to Jones, and lofted a 42-yard completion to Garrit Schmitz to set up Laguna Hills at the Sonora five. Jones eventually ran in a four-yard touchdown.
On its next drive, Sonora fumbled on their 21. After a pair of critical Sonora penalties, including roughing the passer, the ball wound up on the Raider 11. Two plays later, Jones scored from nine yards out. The game became a rout when Jones scored on a three-yard run with 32 seconds remaining in the half.