Leo Verzilli wasted a lot of time last week.
It wasn’t intentional, as the Beatty High School football coach was installing plays for his short-handed team to utilize during Friday night’s game against Beaver Dam. But things quickly went from bad to worse for the Hornets.
“We had put some other stuff in this week, and then our center (Juan Lopez) goes down early, so we had to move another guy to center and move another guy to the line and couldn’t use that guy at running back,” Verzilli said. “We had worked on this stuff all week, and then all of a sudden it blew up in our face.”
Luckily, the Diamondbacks, winless in the Class 1A Southern League last year and 0-6 overall this year, just aren’t good enough to take advantage of the Hornets’ personnel issues. And defensively, the makeshift lineup performed well as Beatty put together a 26-10 victory.
The Hornets lost Lopez and Efrain Villanueva to injuries during the contest, and by game’s end just 13 healthy bodies stood ready to take the field. But there were some bright spots.
“Fabian (Perez) had a great game, Brayden (Lynn) had a great game, and we put Noel (Gutierrez) in at running back because Efrain was out, and he played a great game,” Verzilli said. “We put in some young defensive ends (Anakin Johnson, Ethan Mendoza), and I was really impressed with the work they did.
“Our defense stayed stout and played well. They really impressed me.”
But Verzilli seemed almost flabbergasted by some of the things that went wrong.
“Again, we just played terribly,” he said. “Eight of their points we gave to them. Our new center snaps the ball over the punter’s head and he just watches it and the ball rolls into the end zone and they jump on it for six. And another of his punts he kicked straight up in the air, and the only reason we got 5 yards out of it is it bounced that way.”
But Verzilli was quick to note the same player — Gutierrez — found a way to make amends, returning a punt for a touchdown.
But getting through the game was something of an accomplishment with all of the injuries and illnesses the Hornets have had to survive.
“We threw the ball a few times and we had to go around the edge more than go up the middle because we didn’t have beef,” Verzilli explained. “And it was just hard to move the ball because we had young kids on the line, and they were intimidated.”
But on defense, the Hornets played beyond their experience, and the winless opponent did not take anything away from the confidence boost they took from the game.
These young kids don’t know the difference,” Verzilli said. “They know they’re being hit, but they don’t know the difference between real competition and weaker competition. All they know is they handled their guy and had a good game, and they got some confidence from mixing it up at the varsity level.”
The quality of competition changes dramatically Friday, as Spring Mountain comes to town.
The defending Class 1A state champions are 5-1, 2-1 in the Southern League and coming off of their first loss of the season, a 74-36 pounding at the hands of Pahranagat Valley on Friday night in Alamo.
“If we have everybody back, we should do OK,” Verzilli said.