The Bishop’s offense, behind highly touted quarterback Ty Buchner, marched to a touchdown on the initial drive of their Aug. 23 game, which consisted of 16 plays that consumed 4:50 on the clock. The Knights led La Jolla High 6-0, and other than the point-after attempt being stuffed, this is the way a Bishop’s fan would dream the entire 2019 season to go.
But in the opening game, Coach Joel Allen’s talented squad hit a snag: the Knights had to deal with their own mistakes, and La Jolla brought some of its own chutzpah to the battle of the rivals.
“There are going to be some nerves, and some excitement,” said Allen, in his 11th year, the day before the matchup. “We’ve talked about this week a long time. It seems like forever.”
Well, the nerves did show up, and typical early-season mix-ups occurred, as Buchner, completing a good 18 of 33 pass attempts for 212 yards, also threw a trio of interceptions. His Viking counterpart, Jackson Stratton, a new starter as a sophomore, connected on 16 of 29 for 156 yards, but threw five interceptions. The Knights, eventual 18-9 victors in a surprisingly close contest, trailing at halftime 7-6, lost one fumble and recovered an LJHS fumble in the end zone for their other touchdown.
Waxing philosophical before the Aug. 23 game, Allen said, “If you believe football is an 1l-man sport, then [Ty] is only one piece.” This was in reference to the fact Buchner, a commit to Notre Dame, went out with an ACL injury on the first series of the 2018 season and Bishop’s had to find a way to make do. They did, winning the Coastal Conference championship, going 5-5 overall. “We probably would have won a few more games with him,” said Allen.
Senior Clarence Freeman, a two-way star, and junior Clay Petry, a receiver, bring a lot to the Bishop’s mix in addition to Buchner, who also ran for 77 yards on 13 attempts against La Jolla, including the opening touchdown. Freeman accumulated 125 all-purpose yards, including a rushing TD in the third quarter. He caught nine passes for 100 receiving yards. Petry had four receptions for 57 yards.
On the other side, Viking Max Smith, in the span of five plays in the second quarter, intercepted two passes by Buchner and ran the ball from scrimmage 64 yards for La Jolla’s lone TD to give the Vikings the 7-6 lead after Devin Bale’s PAT.
“Despite the loss, I think it’s safe to say we’ve finally closed the gap on those guys,” La Jolla Coach Tyler Roach said afterwards. He was referring to previous Bishop’s blowouts of 49-0 (CIF second round in 2016), and identical 42-7 losses during the regular season in 2014 and 2015.
Besides Smith, a 5-foot-10-inch junior who also recorded 11 tackles, La Jolla is led by big Cyrus Varnum on the line, linebackers Jack Wiese and Dirk Germon, and playmaker Diego Solis, who caught five passes for 46 yards, ran the ball, and was inserted at quarterback for a different offensive package.