Saugus High had to wait an extra day to open its 2017 campaign, but that doesn’t mean it took that long for the reality of football season to set in.
“Everyone is really dialed in for the week,” said Centurions running back Quinn Sheaffer on Monday. “We know that it’s here. It’s game time. There’s no more messing around.”
The Centurions play Santa Barbara High at Santa Barbara City College tonight at 7 p.m.
The game wasn’t on Friday, Saugus coach Jason Bornn said, because Santa Barbara High’s home field wasn’t completed yet, and another field in the area wasn’t available Friday.
The extra wait, however, didn’t mean the Cents came out sluggish to practice Monday.
“We came out pretty strong today,” Quinn said. “… We accepted the reality after our scrimmage, here we are Monday and everyone kind of knows what we’re dealing with and what we’re up against.”
Saugus beat Santa Barbara 35-7 in last season’s opener at College of the Canyons, building a 28-0 lead by halftime behind quarterback Nathan Eldridge’s big night.
Eldridge completed 13-of-22 passes for 172 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions on the evening and went on to throw for 2,010 yards and 24 scores on the year.
Tonight, he’ll be looking to a different cast of weapons.
The Centurions’ top five receivers graduated after last years’ 9-3 campaign, which ended in the CIF-Southern Section Division 6 quarterfinals.
Look for juniors Devin Thompson and Jake De Britz and senior Tyler Hampsten to emerge as top targets on a team ranked No. 1 in the first Division 6 poll, released by the CIF on Monday.
Sheaffer said the Centurions are using the ranking as inspiration.
“It’s definitely a motivator. I mean it’s not about how we place in preseason and stuff before we’ve even started,” Sheaffer said. “We’re going in with the same mentality (as always): just do our best. And what we want is to come out on top in the end and that’s more important.
“It’s definitely an encouragement that we’re looked at as a better team, and that’s what we strive for as a program.”
Santa Barbara finished 2016 at 5-6 overall. In this year’s preseason poll, the Dons were ranked No. 10 in Division 9.