No team wants to deal with an injury, especially at its most important position.
Fortunately for Faith Lutheran, it had a viable option when quarterback Grant Wood was lost to injury.
Riley Schwartz took over for the Crusaders, and he threw for two touchdowns and rushed for one Friday to help Faith Lutheran to a 35-0 win over Cimarron-Memorial in its first Northwest League game.
“Riley is a player that’s dependable, and he does a lot of things for us,” Faith Lutheran coach Vernon Fox said. “He plays all over the field on both sides of the ball.”
Schwartz threw for three touchdowns in his first start, a 28-21 win over Bakersfield (California) two weeks ago, and has provided a spark offensively.
Meanwhile, the Crusaders’ defense lived in the Spartans’ backfield Friday. Cimarron’s star running back, Jordan Norwood, was limited to 14 yards on seven carries.
When Cimarron tried to pass, the Crusaders were all over that, too. They sacked Branden Smith four times, intercepted him twice and held the Spartans to 115 yards of total offense.
Faith Lutheran began the season 0-3 against out-of-state competition but since has won two straight.
The Crusaders figure to get a stiffer test the rest of the way, but the next two weeks should let them know where they stand. Faith Lutheran meets undefeated Centennial next, then travels to play Arbor View. Shadow Ridge and Palo Verde also are on the schedule.
“We’re fully aware (of the challenge),” Fox said. “We know we’ve got a tough league, and there are several teams playing pretty good football right now.”
What we learned
One of the most surprising storylines this season was the 0-5 start for Liberty, one of the state’s top programs.
The Patriots’ nonleague schedule was as tough as it gets. Coach Rich Muraco said he compiled the schedule to prepare his team for league play.
If the first week was any indication, the strategy worked. The Patriots opened Southeast League play with a 47-3 rout of Chaparral on Friday, a reminder that they’re still the league favorite.
Liberty’s toughest regular-season test probably will be in two weeks when it hosts Foothill, whose only loss was to a Desert Pines team that has been as dominant as any in the state.
Arbor View has a new weapon
Arbor View is known for playing physical football and wearing down opponents with its double-wing attack.
On Friday, the Aggies played some pitch and catch.
Kyle Holmes completed 13 of 14 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns to four receivers in a 54-0 win over Bonanza. Kyri Shoels was the leading receiver with six catches for 140 yards.
Whether Arbor View continues to have that kind of success through the air remains to be seen. But even the threat of it, combined with that vaunted ground game, would make the Aggies difficult to handle.
First glance ahead
Centennial hosts Faith Lutheran in Northwest League play, with both teams looking for a 2-0 start.
Expect offensive fireworks when Las Vegas travels to Legacy in the Northeast League opener for both teams. Entering Friday, they had the valley’s top two teams in passing yards. Legacy’s Evan Oleas has 1,206 yards and nine touchdowns, and Las Vegas’ Ja’Shawn Scroggins has 1,164 yards and a valley-best 17 TDs.
The Southwest League race will continue to untangle itself. Bishop Gorman is 2-0 and on cruise control, while four teams — Clark, Durango, Silverado and Desert Oasis — have one loss apiece. Desert Oasis will travel to Durango, while Silverado looks to keep pace against Spring Valley. Clark has a bye.
Contact Jason Orts at email@example.com or 702-387-2936. Follow @SportsWithOrts on Twitter.