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Huddle up: Elijah Zabludoff on high school football

September 16, 2013|By Elijah Zabludoff
  • St. John Bosco center Elijah Zabludoff
St. John Bosco center Elijah Zabludoff (Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles…)

Editor’s note: Elijah Zabludoff is a senior football player from St. John Bosco High and an aspiring journalist. Each week during the high school football season, he will be blogging about his personal experiences and also his thoughts about prep sports in general. Zabludoff is a returning starter at center for the Braves, who are ranked No. 1 in the Southland by the Los Angeles Times.

Eighteen points down and things were looking bleak. I couldn’t believe what was happening. We were playing Chandler High of Arizona Saturday night and were trailing 28-10. We were also without our star quarterback, Josh Rosen. The St. John Bosco High Braves don’t find ourselves in that kind of position very often. The expectation is that we’re going to win every week. It wasn’t looking good, but after Nas Anesi scored the first of his two touchdowns we were down by 11.

Trailing by 11 and running into the locker room at the half, things needed to be changed. Head coach Jason Negro came in and told us that “Arizona football is looking a lot better than California.” That struck a match in the hearts of the Braves. The family gathered up in a circle before we took the field for the second half and talked.

Two of my teammates, Damien Mama and Jaleel Wadood were talking about playing with more heart and passion, but that didn’t seem compelling enough to me. So,  as a team captain, I felt the need to get my boys jacked up. I forced my way to the middle and preached: “I’m ready to die for you guys! And you gotta be ready to die for me; that’s the only way we’re gonna win this one!”

For the second half, lights came on at Mission Viejo High, and the real St. John Bosco Braves came out. Early on, the ball was on the 3-yard line and our offensive linemen – I’m the center – were all in our four-point stances, loaded up and staring into the eyes of the Chandler defensive linemen. Andrew Katnik, playing in place of Rosen, shouted the cadence and the push by the O-line was all the way to the back of the end zone. Another touchdown for Nas, and our crowd went nuts.

It was then I felt something I hadn’t felt before this season, since we’d never been behind: The momentum was turning in our favor. As we ran off the field after the touchdown with a newfound life, our coaches were pumped: “That’s Bosco football! That’s how we do it!” they yelled. From there, it was nothing but business.

It was a tough thing to see our starting quarterback, Rosen, on the sideline with his pads off. Several players from our offense went to him and told him that we were going to win the game for him. Fortunately, Katnik came in and dominated.

Each week we hear about the lofty expectations of being No. 1 in multiple polls and touted as the best team in the country by many. It comes with a lot of pressure. We try our best not to pay attention, but somehow it always finds its way in. Every week we have to go out and show the nation why we’re ranked No. 1, and in the first half of this game it was especially tough.

It was a nerve racking, but huge win for Bosco. Were we feeling the pressure? Yeah, sure we were. But never did we doubt our ability to come back and win the game. It feels good to be 3-0.

ALSO:

The Times' prep football rankings

Backup Andrew Katnik steps up to lead St. John Bosco to victory

Sylmar, Harvard-Westlake fielding promising young quarterbacks

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