New wrinkles on offense for Flyers on homecoming night
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When the final buzzer sounds at Patti Welder Stadium Friday night, either St. Joseph or St. Dominic Savio will walk off the field with its first win of the season in its TAPPS Division II, District 3 opener.
For a St. Joseph squad that is sporting a healthy roster for the first time all season there is plenty of optimism headed into Friday night's homecoming game.
Thanks in part to last week's open date, the Flyers were able to recuperate back to full strength. Most notably, quarterback Jerry Vasquez returns under center after missing the Weimar defeat two weeks ago. Eric Alvarez, who filled in for Vasquez at quarterback, will return to playing running back.
"It feels really good," St. Joseph head coach Kevin Auten said. "We feel better having Jerry back. That's a big help and Eric back at his spot is too. Cameron (Zafereo) looks really good. That gives us a confidence booster."
Savio enters Friday night's district opener with a 0-3 record that includes a 75-8 defeat at the hands of Austin Reagan last week.
"They play hard and have good speed," Auten said of his Friday night opponent. "Sam Alvarado, their running back, has great foot speed and runs the ball very well. He spins out of tackles and is good at getting extra yards after contact."
Alvarado has ran the ball 18 times in three games for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Josh Braehl has ran the ball 38 times, the most on the team, and has gained 138 yards.
Braehl has also completed 22 of 50 passes this season for 211 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions.
"They're pretty much balanced," Auten said. "They have multiple things they do. We've faced teams that run and pass, but we don't make a whole lot of adjustments."
Flyers' fans can expect to see Savio in the shotgun formation most of the time. According to Auten, the Eagles have lined up under center once this season and that resulted in a fumbled snap.
"Haven't seen them go under center since," Auten said.
The Eagles have a trio of receivers that Braehl can throw to at any moment. Alvarado is one of them with a team high 111 receiving yards on just six catches. Nick Large leads the team with 12 receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown, while Brian McNaughton has caught two touchdown passes.
Defensively, the Eagles have shown the ability to stop the run, giving up minus 35 yards on the ground in a Week 2 defeat. However, they have shown the ability to give up plenty of yards with Austin St. Stephens running for over 300 yards on the ground.
"Chizi Ibezim plays nose guard for them and will get after you," Auten said. "They fly around and hustle to the ball. They work hard and are well coached."
St. Joseph won't do much different against Savio on offense, but will introduce some new formations.
"We kind of opened up some formations to give us an advantage," Auten said. "We'll still get in three back and some one back."
The Flyers will look to provide the homecoming audience a fun and exciting game. However, Auten hopes the players themselves focus on the game and not hoopla surrounding the game.
"We talked a lot about that at length this week," Auten said. "There is something going on everyday. We're excited and also discussed about enjoying it and having a good time. But our number one focus is to get the win Friday night."
Kickoff between St. Joseph and Savio is set for 7:30 p.m. at Patti Welder Stadium. The homecoming court will be crowned at halftime.