Photo Credit: Lucy Thorne
This past Friday, September 6th, our Agoura Chargers took on the visiting Buena Bulldogs. Agoura entered the game with a record of 1-1, seeking to rebound from a crushing 41-0 shutout defeat versus Saugus High School, while Buena was 0-2. Captains running back Matt Miles (Miles was unable to play due to injury), defensive lineman Evan Randel, quarterback Nate Frederick, and offensive lineman Parker Lake won the opening coin toss and elected to receive.
The Chargers started with the ball at their own 26 yard line after a short kick off from Buena. Ryan Rowe, starting at running back in place of the injured Matt Miles, started the game with a short run, followed by a short pass from Frederick to Max Lopez for a 5 yard gain. A few somewhat uneventful plays later, star receiver Jake East took the ball on a tricky reverse handoff, nearly breaking through the Buena defense for a touchdown before being taken down by the shoelaces. The Charger offense would continue to run the ball. Ryan Rowe, running strong, would lead the Charger drive all the way to the end zone, with Rowe powering through the gap on a short run for a touchdown. After the extra point was blocked, the score was 6-0 Agoura, with 6 minutes left in the first quarter. Buena struggled to gain momentum on their opening drive, with Evan Randel making his presence felt, plugging up the run. On 3rd and 6, Buena sophomore quarterback Jack Chavarria forced a throw and was picked off by Jake East. On offense, Agoura continued turning to Ryan Rowe, who ran for a short gain, with the entire Buena defense required to take him down. A fumbled snap would end an uneventful Charger drive, forcing a punt. Junior Christian Cojulun sent up a great punt, giving David Brubach time to race downfield and recover a muffed punt, giving Agoura possession of the ball in great field position on the fifteen-yard line. A short run by Cooper Kennedy opened the drive, followed by a holding call on offense. Senior quarterback Nate Frederick would nearly be picked off on the next play, forcing a throw after the offensive line collapsed around him. Next, Coach Kamran Salem failed the deliver the offense a play in a timely fashion, resulting in a delay of game penalty. After a great start to the drive, the Chargers were now faced with 4th and 30. Nate Frederick delivered a quick kick on the next play, punting the ball away, giving Buena possession going into the second quarter.
Buena opened the second quarter by running a handful of tricky reverse handoffs in an attempt to throw the defense off guard, resulting in a first down. Next, after a fumbled snap for a big loss, Buena took a shot deep downfield, drawing pass interference on the defense for a fifteen-yard penalty. After a series of runs, Buena would punt the ball to Agoura, backing the Chargers onto their own fifteen-yard line. Ryan Rowe continued to make his presence felt, taking numerous defenders down with him on a short run. Errors would plague the remainder of the drive, with a bad snap resulting in a nine-yard loss, a false start penalty, and a fumble and recovery by Nate Frederick. The Chargers were forced to punt, backed up into their own endzone. A solid punt out of the endzone by Cojulun would have to be redone after a questionable running into the punter call by the refereeing staff, and Buena received the ball at Agoura’s 26 yard line. Buena opened the drive with a short run, resulting in the Charger defense being penalized for a facemask call. Buena would nearly turn the ball over as Chavarria gave up a wide open scramble, which would have likely resulted in a touchdown, instead opting to force a throw into tight coverage. A great stop by freshman Mitchell Bermant, followed by two consecutive fumbled snaps, and a blocked field goal by Jake East ended the Buena drive. With two minutes left in the half and Charger ball at their own 19, Ryan Rowe, having a monster game, would break a long run downfield. Jake East lined up as quarterback in the wildcat formation, and after a false start penalty, he would find room to run for a solid gain. Offensive pass interference would bring the Charger’s back fifteen yards, but would largely be made up by another great run by Rowe. A misthrown ball by Frederick would later end the drive, with the Chargers punting the ball away. Buena immediately took a shot downfield, taking advantage of the shallow coverage by the Charger secondary. A great ball by Buena would be negated by superb coverage by David Brubach. Coach Salem failed to adjust the defense, and Buena would come back a play later to throw another deep ball, this time resulting in a Buena touchdown. With minutes left in the half, the score was 6-7 Buena. After a bit of confusion on the ensuing kickoff, the Chargers would get the ball on Buena’s 41-yard line. A group of incomplete passes and a short gain by Lopez would bring on 4th and long with seconds left in the half. On an amazing play, Frederick would throw an impeccable ball to junior receiver Evan Nicol deep down the middle of the field for a buzzer-beater touchdown. Going into half on a complete extra point by Cojulun, the score was 13-7, Chargers.
Agoura kicked off to Buena, who started the second half in good field position. Afterward, following two incompletions by Buena, Chavarria would launch a picture-perfect deep ball for a touchdown. A complete extra point made the score 13-14, Buena. The next Charger drive would be dominated, yet again, by Ryan Rowe, who would find the endzone on a series of strong runs, for his second touchdown of the game. The score was now 20-14, with Agoura leading. Buena began their drive by running consecutively, being stuffed at the line on both attempts. On one of the most egregious missed calls of the season thus far, Buena would deliver an indefensible cheap shot to junior linebacker Ben Lober. Lober reacted, as any player should, by defending himself, getting up and shoving the Buena player. While the referees refused to call Buena on the blatant and dangerous cheap shot to Lober, which occurred entirely after the play, they certainly penalized Lober for defending himself. Coach Salem proceeded to lose his cool, and instead of defending his player, shouted at Lober on the sidelines. The Charger defense was ultimately unable to rally against Buena, with Buena throwing a touchdown later in the drive, making the score 20-21, Buena late in the 3rd. The Chargers would continue to run the ball, all but neglecting the talented receiving corp of Lopez, East, Nicol, and co. The 3rd quarter would end with the Chargers retaining possession after a handful of runs from Rowe, Kennedy, and Frederick respectively.
Early in the fourth quarter, Frederick would be pressured in the pocket, scrambling for a first down. In a questionable play call, the Chargers would yet again line up in wildcat, with East at quarterback, down by one in the fourth quarter. A bad snap would bring on 3rd and 8, and sack would bring on 4th and long. Another bad snap, which disrupted the Charger offense throughout the game, would result in a turnover on downs, ending the Charger drive. On a crucial defensive drive, the Chargers needed a stop to keep the game alive. The defense started off strong, holding Buena to a 4th and 5. Unfortunately, Buena running back Bruce Mathis, who had a monster game, would pick up the first down on an outside run. Mathis would proceed to pick up a touchdown, making the score 20-28, Buena, with less than 5 minutes to go. Coach Salem let his anger show, failing to rally the offense for the possible game-tying drive. Rowe would start the drive with two great runs, picking up a first down. A bad snap would be recovered for no gain, bringing on 2nd and 10. On the next play, Frederick, under pressure by the Buena defense, would force a ball down the middle which would nearly be intercepted. Frederick would come back with a historic effort, willing his way to a first down on a lengthy scramble. Unfortunately, the referees, who yet again, were questionable all game, ruled that Frederick did not reach the first down. On 4th and inches, Coach Salem, on a horrible play call, put Jake East in at quarterback yet again, placing him directly under center for a quarterback sneak, disregarding the fact that they haven’t lined up under center all year. Predictably, this was unsuccessful, as the snap was fumbled, turning the ball over on downs. Buena would proceed to run the clock down, eventually taking a knee to end the game. Final score, 20-28, Buena.
Although there were many positives, such as Ryan Rowe’s impressive game, a handful of perfect throws by Frederick, and great defensive performances, bad snaps, poor refereeing, and even worse play-calling resulted in a crushing defeat. Here’s hoping Coach Salem can adjust his strategy and help his team bounce back next week at El Camino.