The Redeem Team is off and running, as the Wilson Bruins have defeated the Inglewood Sentinals by a score of 28-6. The victory is an important first step for the Bruins, who were just 1-9 last season. Inglewood, however, was the “one” in one and nine, which is probably why Wilson Coach Mario Morales says he and his team are “cautiously excited and optimistic” after the victory.
He told me that one of the team captains, Joel Bitonio, refused to let his team think too far ahead, reminding them that this is exactly where they were a year ago—”This doesn’t mean anything,” he said. Morales praised Bitonio’s leadership, saying, “It’s nice to hear that from a player and not a coach.” Bitonio, a defensive lineman who was part of last year’s squad, is one of several returners from that team that Morales says have motivated the Bruins to play to their potential this season.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have Jemari Roberts, maybe the Moore League’s single greatest offensive player this year. Roberts scored a touchdown early in the game, a sight that’s sure to repeat itself over the course of the year. Aside from Roberts, Morales gave credit to his defense for playing a great game, holding the Sentinels to just six points at home. In particular he named Vergee Whitaker, the all-important nose tackle in Wilson’s 3-5 scheme—Whitaker came up with 13 tackles and a pair of sacks to boot. Middle linkebacker Zach Dubin also played well, recording four sacks, part of a defensive unit that barely saw Inglewood gain positive yardage.
USC coach Pete Carroll and UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel were on hand, chatting each other up on the sidelines while they scoped out Roberts (who’s committed to Stanford) and the other talent. It was the Bruins’ defense that most impressed however, though it doesn’t sport many big name recruits. If they can continue to create turnovers and get to the quarterback, they could be that much closer to exorcising the demons of 2007. Another victory over Inglewood won’t do that—but it does set the table nicely.
Wilson stays on the road for another two weeks, with tough games against Pacifica and Ganesha, before coming home to face Los Al.