Kickoff: Sat., Sept. 8, at 1:05 p.m.
Baker Stadium, University of Puget Sound
The University of Redlands football team hopped a flight for Tacoma, WA, early Friday morning to face the University of Puget Sound in the second game of the season on Saturday, September 8, at 1:05 p.m. The Bulldogs strive to carry last weekend's momentum into the first of back-to-back road trips to the Northwest Conference, with this one providing a unique showdown for both teams.
Maynard had the privilege of coaching All-American cornerback Jeff Thomas '03, who now leads the Logger football team with an insider perspective of the Bulldog way. After a four-year playing career, Thomas moved into a coaching role as a member of Maynard's staff. During his six years as an assistant coach, he worked with a variety of position groups and eventually took over as Offensive Coordinator.
This marks their first meeting as head coaches as well as the teams' initial clash since 1998. The all-time series between Redlands and Puget Sound sits at 2-2.
"I expect UPS to be very well-coached and ready to compete at a high level," stated Maynard.
The Loggers opened the 2018 season with a 45-35 comeback win over Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) foe, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges, last week. Junior wide receiver Alvin Johnson snagged 12 catches for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, UPS' quarterback Nick Bernhardt went down with an injury late in the game but recorded 295 yards through the air on 29 completions for three scores.
To say the least, the Loggers throw the football a lot, resulting in 47 tosses by the final whistle.
"They do a lot of different things on offense so we'll have to read and adjust on the fly. We'll have to counterpunch what they do," added Maynard.
Last week, Redlands' offense was clicking on all cylinders as well, as the Bulldogs racked up 406 yards, which was nearly 100 more than George Fox University (OR). Senior quarterback Levi Plante (Lake Arrowhead, CA) converted 24 of his 30 attempts for 254 yards, with junior tight end Blake Roy (Camas, WA) hauling in nine catches for 98 yards. On the ground, senior running back Conner Kennedy (Olympia, WA) nearly eclipsed the century mark with 94 rushing yards, as his energy and effectiveness improved throughout the game. Furthermore, the Bulldogs started the season off with a remarkable third-down conversion efficiency of 57% (8 of 14), as compared to GFU's 31% (4 of 13).
"Fifty-seven percent is really high for a first game of the season and results from a strong performance by everyone involved. We want to build upon that against UPS."
A big part of the Maroon and Gray's success also remains with the team's performance at the line of scrimmage. On offense, Redlands relies on the quality production of senior center Tommy Garcia (La Habra, CA), senior guard Christian Godina (Phoenix, AZ), and junior guard Brandyn Alvarez (Grand Terrace, CA). Defensively, senior defensive end Joe Munroe (Costa Mesa, CA) and junior defensive end Elias Hackney (Santa Monica, CA) continue to elevate their level of play, which sets the tone for the rest of the Bulldogs. In addition, sophomore defensive back Carl Holmes (Fresno, CA) brings the intensity and desire to build off last week's SCIAC Defensive Athlete of the Week honor, which came off a team-high seven tackles and two breakups.
Defensively, the UPS Loggers count on Todd Blakely to pressure the opponent's quarterback, as illustrated by his 3.5 tackles for a loss of 19 yards last week.
With plenty of pressure and high expectations, Redlands looks to the leadership of this week's honorary captains, including Plante, Roy, Munroe, and junior defensive back Chad Virgil (Menifee, CA), with the hope of bringing home another win.
"We have to maximize our possessions, get some scores, make their offense one-dimensional, and play great defense," commented Maynard.
This is nothing unusual for football but certainly different, as the Bulldogs square off against a Maynard protégé.