“They’re super excited about playing at Kezar,” Riordan coach John Lee said. “We reminded them about the rich tradition behind the place. The richness of it, the locker rooms and the tunnel. It’s special to play there.”
Riordan (1-1) will need some of that to rebound from the thumping it took last week. The Crusaders had a rough second week, dropping their contest against St. Mary’s 49-7.
The Crusaders were limited to 206 yards and quarterback Zach Masoli totaled 119 yards and an interception on 8-for-20 passing.
First-year coach Lee and Riordan are looking to find some sort of rhythm before it begins West Catholic Athletic League play next week against league favorite Mitty.
“We really focused on sustaining our blocks offensively. We didn’t do a really good job of that [against St. Mary’s],” Lee said. “We also focused defensively on finishing a tackle. There were several times we would hit the St. Mary’s ball carriers in the backfield or shortly past the line of scrimmage and we couldn’t wrap up and they got pretty decent gains. We told them if you play like that, Mission is going to exploit it and you’re going to pay.”
Senior linemen Riko Tamasese and Eduardo Vega and safety Christian Hall have taken up some of the early leadership on the squad.
Mission’s preseason schedule is identical to last season, but it has begun much differently this time around. The Bears are trying to find their way into the win column after getting trounced by Menlo and Hercules in consecutive weeks.
The Bears have been outscored 103-12 in two weeks and are still adjusting to life without star quarterback and Academic Athletic Association Player of the Year Antoine Porter, who graduated in the spring.
Mission had 10 All-AAA first and second teamers last season and the only returner from that group is tackle Issac Straznickas.
“I think that the defense is slightly similar to ours but they move to the ball well,” Lee said. “If we engage and get into them then we should have success that we want.”
It is also Mission’s final preseason game before it begins league play against Galileo.
In last year’s matchup, the Crusaders (1-1) took a 21-point halftime lead on their way to the 35-14 victory.
Riordan ran nearly exclusively and totaled 249 yards on 49 carries in last year’s meeting. Masoli was responsible for 105 yards rushing to go along with his 87 through the air.