Charter Oak senior Zion Echols was feeling fairly ill when he arrived at Green Valley on Friday.
While that seemed like that would have been a good omen for the host Gators, it may have been the worst thing that could have happened to them.
“The mantra tonight was ‘The more I score, the faster I can sit down,'” said Echols. “I wasn’t feeling good, so I just wanted to make sure my team won, but not pass out in the process.”
Echols more than achieved that mission, scoring five touchdowns to power the Chargers past the Gators, 42-21.
Echols said his team was also very motivated Friday after Green Valley traveled to Covina (Calif.) last season and beat the Chargers, 26-23.
“They came and disrespected us in our house, so we had to come back here and do the same,” Echols said.
Said Green Valley coach Brian Castro: “They are a good football team. They came out ready to play. We got down and we didn’t answer.”
Echols set the tone early, returning the opening kickoff 90 yards for a score to give his team a 7-0 lead.
“The kickoff return team opened up a big hole,” said Echols. “They made it really easy for me. All I had to do was catch the ball and run straight. Anybody could have done it.”
Echols, who finished with 143 rushing yards on just 12 carries, followed that with scoring runs of 20, 55, 42 and 2 yards.
“It was the offensive line. The holes were just huge,” said Echols, who capped the Chargers’ first two drives with touchdown runs that pushed the lead to 21-0 with just under four minutes left in the first quarter.
Said Castro: “We knew coming into the game he was going to be a force for them. They did a good job of moving him around and trying to get the ball in his hands.”
For Green Valley, Austin Warhop led the offense with 19 carries for 111 yards, and Nahzi Salih added 93 rushing yards for the Gators.
Green Valley played three quarterbacks in the game, and each threw a touchdown pass. A.J. Barilla led the way, connecting on 10-of-14 passes for 110 yards.
“I have to look at the film and see where we are at. I have faith in all three that they can execute what we ask them to do,” said Castro.
But Castro said quarterback play was far from Green Valley’s only problems Friday.
“Attitude, Effort. We have to get tougher, and we have to have better practice habits, ” said Castro. “And quite obviously, that falls on me. We have to fix that. And we will.”