The University of Redlands football team heads to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Saturday for a 1 p.m. kick-off against the Stags at John Zinda Field. With hopes of leaving last week's loss in the rearview mirror, the Bulldogs work to get back on track in their next Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) game.
"We go up from here. We need to get back to playing Bulldog football," Head Coach Mike Maynard stated. "We expect better than we played [last week]."
Redlands was not the only team to suffer its first conference loss of the season last week, as Claremont-Mudd-Scripps fell to Cal Lutheran University in a similar result, 20-42. The ability to bounce back will be key, as will setting the tone early in Saturday's showdown.
"Our players are not thinking about last week. Young people are much more resilient than coaches," added Maynard. "We want to start well, finish well, and play all the way through."
Always well-coached and prepared for competition, CMS promises to bring a tough battle, especially with the home-field advantage at Fritz B. Burns Stadium.
As of late, the Stags have utilized two quarterbacks, including senior Sam Healy, who has nearly 800 yards through the air with eight touchdowns and five picks. However, the Bulldogs have their eyes on freshman Jake Norville and junior Brenden Brown as possible play-callers. Senior Chris Cziesla serves as the top receiver with 298 receiving yards on 16 catches for three touchdowns. Freshman running back Jordan Leonard paces the Stags with 342 all-purpose yards, including return, receiving, and rushing gains. Defensively, senior Brendan MacDonald ranks first on the team with 35 total tackles, including three for a loss of 13 yards.
The Bulldogs have settled into their offense, with junior Levi Plante (Lake Arrowhead, CA) leading the charge with an efficiency rating of 164.5, which includes seven touchdowns and no picks. Senior wide receivers Cole Blackburn (Sammamish, WA) and Alex Andrighetto (Portola Valley, CA) spearhead the air attack with more than 500 yards between them. Junior running backs Conner Kennedy (Olympia, WA) and Josiah Alvira (Danville, CA) continue to impress on the ground with more than five yards per carry each.
On the other side of the ball, Redlands relies on its depth to get the job done, with sophomore defensive back PJ Wilson (Modesto, CA), senior linebacker Mitch Shepherd (Seattle, WA), and junior linebacker Nick Castro (La Verne, CA) wreaking havoc on the opposing offenses by amassing nearly 30 tackles apiece.
As CMS and Redlands focus on jumping back into the win column, there is a lot at stake in Saturday's game. To be successful, the Bulldogss must bring their best effort from the opening play.
"We need to start with great confidence and get our bark back," Maynard added.