“Your offense is putting up video game numbers,” said Tyler Hales, La Jolla Country Day’s head coach, to his offensive coordinator, Carmy Cesaire. Cesaire, the seventh-year assistant, just smiled.
It’s true: In the Torreys’ first three games this season, quarterback E.J. Kreutzmann and his talented receiving corps, including Nick Albert, Daniel Rosenberg, Brandon Kim, and Frankie Carney, swamped Chula Vista 40-20, Cardenas Federal Prep (in Tijuana) 55-49, and Classical Academy 60-26.
What’s more, Albert, a 5-foot-11-inch, 200-pound senior, grabbed 15 passes for 290 receiving yards, a school record, against Federal Prep in week two, including the winning touchdown as time ran out. In the same game, Kreutzmann set a CIF record with 663 passing yards.
“I’m an extremely superstitious person,” said Albert, a running back who mostly catches passes out of the backfield. “I messed up on some of my superstitions before the Federal Prep game. Then I ate way too much before the game and my stomach was hurting.” He felt better after warm-ups, and then he and the offense exploded.
Why the video game numbers? Hales, in his sixth year at the helm, attributes them to the talented receivers and Coach Carmy’s system: “The offense is totally his. It’s mostly short passes to get receivers out in space.” Zach Alligood, senior signal caller with Albert on defense who plays left tackle on offense, credits hard work and the players bonding at team camp at the end of July.
Albert, pretty effusive, reveals three other secrets: Daniel Rosenberg’s mother, Krista, began making sumptuous meals for her son and his friends the day before games. First, it was chicken. Then steak. Most recently, salmon was on the menu.
The afternoon of games: spikeball. “I can’t nap because it leaves me tired,” said Albert, “so we played spikeball. My partner, Sam Alligood [Zach’s younger brother, a sophomore lineman], is the worst spikeball player. But he was balling before the Federal Prep game. We finally got kicked off the court because we were winning too much.”
Lastly, Nick said he made up a locker room playlist of songs. “Dreams and Nightmares” by Meek Mill begins: “I used to pray for times like this/ to shine like this.”
Through three victories, Albert had 514 yards receiving on 28 receptions; Rosenberg, a junior, 397 yards on 25 receptions; and Kim, a senior, 302 yards on 18 catches. Carney, a sophomore, added 126 yards on eight receptions.
“We have guys who trust the system. They know they’re not always going to get the ball,” said Hales. “There are not a lot of ‘me’ guys in the program. They wouldn’t last.”
Cesaire, the brother of former Charger and present USD defensive line coach Jacques, has master-minded an attack that gets different players out in space, with E.J. able to distribute to them with crisp passes.
Zach Alligood, for his part, has put up “video game numbers” of tackles each game, with 20, 22, and 14 in successive weeks. “At team camp the week of July 31, that’s where guys came together with the many new guys,” the 6-foot-5-inch former North Carolinian said.