Benedict making his points at La Habra

first_imgLA HABRA — La Habra High School opened Friday’s football game with a drive to Downey’s 6-yard line. Life was good for coach Frank Mazzotta and quarterback R.J. Benedict. Then it began to deteriorate. Rapidly. Where had the 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior been for nearly two quarters? “I’m not sure,” Benedict said Wednesday. “I think it was probably first-game jitters.” Said Mazzotta: “I think Downey had a little to do with it. That’s a good football team. They were young and good last year, and they are much better this year. A year older, faster, better.” Mazzotta credited Benedict’s strong performance over the last half of last season for his recovery Friday night. “I think the experience of that and the confidence he gained from that helped him come back,” Mazzotta said. “I think the toughness and experience is what helped him keep battling and enabled him to throw the (passes) we needed down the stretch.” Benedict agreed. “I knew I was struggling,” he said. “But my teammates kept telling me to relax, that everything would be OK. And I knew that, after last year, I could do it. “I threw a couple of good passes and got back to being comfortable, and I knew I was ready to go.” Benedict rushed for 90 yards on just 10 carries and completed 12 of 21 pass attempts for 138 yards. He says he enjoys his new responsibilities running the ball. “Our offense has changed a little, and coach wanted to use me more as a running back/quarterback,” Benedict said. “I probably won’t be running as much as I did in the first game, but we want the defense to be aware of that possibility.” Think about it. The Highlanders’ usual solid defense and an offensive line that blocks well for the ground game and protects well when Benedict passes. Now, Benedict is running with the ball, too. And the rich get richer. — Roger Murray can be reached at (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3046, or by e-mail at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Whatever the reason, Highlanders center Nick Casey snapped the ball prematurely, missing Benedict’s hands and sending the football 30 yards back up field. The Highlanders failed to score on that possession and their next three, all in the first half, and fell behind 7-0. La Habra’s best chance to score in the third quarter ended at the Downey 14 when Benedict threw the ball to the wrong side of his receiver and it was intercepted in the end zone. center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Clearly, for Mazzotta and Benedict, life no longer was good. “Early in the game I had been thinking about having an experienced quarterback and good players around him, and we were moving the ball and it seemed like we were going to have a good game, and it was fun,” Mazzotta recalled. “Then we had that center snap, and it was downhill for awhile, and it wasn’t as much fun.” In the fourth quarter, La Habra found its offense and Benedict found his groove. First he led a 62-yard Highlanders march for a touchdown, scoring himself from 9 yards out and then running in the two-point conversion for an 8-7 lead. Benedict then capped his remarkable turnaround by racing 61 yards with 43 seconds to play to ice the victory. last_img read more