St. Edmond's new look offense and suffocating defense proved to be a winning combination here Friday night.
Showing few signs of rust in all phases of the game, the 10th-ranked (Class 2A) Gael football team (1-0 overall) opened its 2011 campaign by posting a 28-0 home shutout against No. 10 (A) Bishop Garrigan (0-1) at Dodger Stadium.
"It was a great game for us all the way around," said SEHS head coach Dick Tighe, who upped his state record wins mark to 383 last evening. "We got a shutout, had no turnovers and looked pretty good for our first time out.
"I was quite encouraged by our performance."
Running out of the I-formation, the Gaels racked up 298 yards of total offense (189 passing and 109 rushing). St. Edmond's defensive unit also flashed potential by limiting the Golden Bears to just 191 (111 passing and 80 rushing).
"(Garrigan) was pretty stubborn defensively at the start and was focused on stopping our ground game," Tighe said. "We came into (Friday) wanting to mix things up more offensively, and we were able to get some good production out of our passing game, which should make us
even tougher to contain as the season goes on."
After going three-and-out on their initial drive of the contest, Gael junior quarterback David Flattery hooked up with senior split end Nick Clark on a 25-yard touchdown strike with 7:08 remaining in the first quarter, supplying the green and white with all the early momentum.
"Clark has such good hands and can really jump for the ball," said Tighe. "He's very competitive and doesn't ever seem to get tired, either."
Still clinging to that same advantage, SEHS eventually tacked on a key insurance score late in the second period when junior Aaron McElroy broke free around the left end for a 41-yard dash to paydirt.
"McElroy reported to camp in great shape and has just been working so hard in practice," Tighe said. "I've been really impressed by his commitment, and he'll only continue to improve, too."
Another McElroy scamper to the endzone - this time from 16 yards out midway through the fourth - and a 67-yard touchdown connection- down the right sideline - from Flattery to Clark less than two minutes later provided the Gaels with plenty of breathing room.
"I noticed (the Golden Bears) were playing bump and run (defensive coverage) and thought there would be an opportunity to hit a big pass play," said Tighe. "David threw the ball pretty accurately for us all night long."
Flattery finished 9-for-20 through the air for 189 yards. Clark was hit favorite target with six catches for 165 yards.
McElroy, an elusive 150-pounder, spearheaded the Gael ground charge with nine carries for 92 yards.
Defensively, sophomore Vinnie Harvey tied a school record with six sacks from his nose guard position.
"Harvey really showed some things (last night)," Tighe said. "He's always unblockable in practice, too."
Senior Ryan Rodenborn also contributed three sacks, while junior Teddie Harvey and senior Joe Winge each added one. In addition, Clark ended a promising Garrigan possession with an interception just outside the goal line, which he returned 28 yards.
"Our defense was excellent, especially along the line," said Tighe. "We seem to be well-conditioned."
Shawn Vaske, a junior, propelled the Golden Bears offensively with 65 yards on 11 attempts. Freshman signal-caller Reece Wadle also shined with a 40-yard jaunt in the first quarter for Garrigan, which went three-and-out seven times on the evening.
"I thought we did some good things at times, but we were horrible offensively," BGHS head coach Marty Wadle said. "Hopefully, we can keep getting better."
The Gaels visit Manson Northwest Webster (1-1) on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. The Cougars blanked East Sac County last night, 31-0.