There were people who laughed at the audacity of a local newspaper to predict Ventura St. Bonaventure to finish fifth place in the Marmonte League this season.
It was understandable considering the Seraphs had a bunch of "no-name" players missing from the big-time lists of future college prospects.
But those who watched St. Bonaventure in summer passing competitions saw potential, and on Friday night, the Seraphs unleashed a powerful defense that left a highly regarded Long Beach Poly passing attack in tatters while inflicting a 32-7 defeat at Long Beach Veterans Stadium.
It's the second consecutive year that the Seraphs have defeated the Jackrabbits, so please don't say Friday's opening-game performance was a fluke. They came away with four interceptions, two by Bobby Marquez.
And let me introduce you to the so-called St. Bonaventure "no-names" who everyone should get to know.
There's 6-foot-2 junior quarterback Marc Evans, who completed 14 of 17 passes for 169 yards in the first half of his first varsity start and finished 17 of 25 for 234 yards. "Just stay calm, poised and everything would fall into place," he said of his attitude.
There's senior cornerback Tanner Souza, who returned a fumble 42 yards for a touchdown, caught passes of 45 and 36 yards, made an interception and had a tackle for an eight-yard loss.
"Everyone said we fell off this year, but we're fully loaded," Souza said. "The key was eliminate the deep ball. They weren't patient enough to drive down the field."
There's sophomore safety Paul Thompson, who had one of St. Bonaventure's four interceptions, contributed several bone-crunching tackles and helped neutralize Poly quarterback Chaiyse Hales, who was 11 of 27 for 185 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions after passing for 334 yards and five touchdowns last week against Bakersfield.
There's senior defensive lineman Eric Schneider, who had two sacks and spent the night in Poly's backfield or stuffing Poly running backs.
"It was a great [first] impression," Schneider said. "We were ready to show we were ready."
There's a definite intimidation factor to overcome when facing Poly, an 18-time Southern Section champion. From the pregame warmups, when players shout and pound their chests, to hearing the rap music blaring on the public-address system from - former Poly student Snoop Dogg, the psyche game is underway. And this season, there's a camera crew following around players and coaches as part of a documentary project, adding to the Poly mystique.
But St. Bonaventure came out prepared. The defense limited the Jackrabbits to 61 yards passing in the first half and took a 22-0 halftime lead.
Most surprising was the play of Evans. He was allowed to drop back and throw from his own end zone early in the game, and he responded with a bullet pass that resulted in a 24-yard catch by Jeremy Sanchez over the middle. From then on, Evans looked like a veteran.