FOOTBALL: Gavilan hosts Merced in home opener on Saturday

 

Garcia-Elder Sports Complex will be the site Saturday when the
Gavilan hosts Merced College in a non-conference football game.
Kickoff is 1 p.m.
Gavilan head coach John Lango began his 11th year at the helm of the Rams with a 35-26 setback against Merced College in 2000. The Rams dropped games to the Blue Devils in 2001 (25-0) and 2002 (49-7) before Lango’s club earned a 28-14 decision to begin the 2003 campaign.

Although the teams have not played since 2003, they have competed in preseason scrimmages for four years, most recently in 2009.

Garcia-Elder Sports Complex will be the site Saturday when the Gavilan hosts Merced College in a non-conference football game. Kickoff is 1 p.m.

“We know that Gavilan has always played physical,” first-year Merced head coach Bob Casey said of this weekend’s opponent.

“Gavilan will keep you off your game as much as possible,” Casey added. “We know Gavilan’s going to give us a good test.”

Casey was named the Blue Devil’s head coach earlier this month after the departure of coach Mark Kaanapu, who was Live Oak High’s head football coach during the 1998-99 season. Kaanapu resigned to become running backs coach at Portland State of the Big Sky Conference.

Merced opened the season against powerhouse San Joaquin Delta College, losing 49-0 at home.

“Delta was exceptionally fast and Gavilan’s so physical that having these two opponents will help us prepare for the rest of the season,” Casey said.

Merced’s offensive unit is highlighted by tight end Alex Young, a 6-foot-5, 240-pounder. Sophomore Eddie Beavers, a 5-11 wideout, caught 60 passes last season and is expected to be “a big contributor to our offense,” Casey said.

The Blue Devil head coach tabbed sophomore Bernard Bolden, a 5-9, 185-pound all-conference safety, as “a top player who should get plenty of attention from four-year schools.”

Adam Ragsdale completed 13 of 31 passes for 50 yards and two interceptions in the game against San Joaquin Delta.

Lango planned to spend this week’s practices to have “the offense get off the ball faster and the special teams improve over last week.”

Lango lauded the work of sophomore middle linebacker Chris Archuletta for a solid effort against De Anza last week in the team’s 35-9 loss to open the regular season.

“Chris is a smart player who played real physical and tackled well,” Lango said.

Ryan Costa was busy for the Rams, punting 10 times and intercepting two passes, although one was called back.

Sophomore starting linebacker Dustin Leffew injured a knee against the Dons and will be sidelined several weeks.

Lango added that the return of three starting players, including running back Doug Stewart, receiver Matt McGill and offensive lineman Charles Gallagher, should improve Gavilan’s performance against Merced.

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