High school football: St. Bonaventure grounds Archbishop Riordan’s high-flying offense

Archbishop Riordan surrenders a two fourth-quarter leads in back-and-forth game.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Archbishop Riordan’s passing offense, led by decisive sophomore quarterback Michael Mitchell Jr., is capable of scoring from anywhere on the field.

Coach Joe Goyeneche of St. Bonaventure-Ventura knew this, so he unveiled a flawless “defense” for the Crusaders’ air attack in the visitor’s 24-14 victory in San Francisco on Saturday afternoon.

The Seraphs ran the ball for short but consistent gains behind tight ends and fullbacks, totaling 202 yards on 44 attempts. It’s a strategy that opponents in Southern California can expect to see from St. Bonaventure later this season.

“We both play in competitive leagues, two highly competitive leagues,” said Goyeneche. “We wanted our non-league schedule to help us prepare for that.”

After battling St. Bonaventure, Riordan head coach Adhir Ravipati said his team should be ready for the bruisers in the West Catholic Athletic League.

“St. Bonaventure is a great program that is well known for being athletic, tough, and well coached,” Ravipati wrote in a text message. “They’re a WCAL caliber team and play style that we wanted to help us prepare for league play.”

St. Bonaventure’s forays into the line may not have produced highlights, but they did keep Riordan’s talented receivers on the defensive side of the ball as defensive backs for the majority of the game.

In the first three quarters, Riordan had five possessions.

Tyrone Jackson, a senior at Riordan, was one of those receivers who also played defense, and he flew around the field to keep St. Bonaventure from breaking off the big play until it was too late.

“I’ve been playing both sides on varsity for all four years,” Jackson explained. “I was ready to play all four quarters on both sides.”

According to Ravipati, the team was missing several starters, which affected the rotation not only on defense but also on special teams.

Riordan held a slim 7-3 lead heading into what would be a wild fourth quarter.

The craziness began when St. Bonaventure quarterback Kaden Glover, who is filling in for injured starter Anthony Wolter, plowed into the end zone on third-and-goal to cap a 12-play drive and give the Seraphs a 10-7 lead with 11 minutes remaining.

“First half, we came out soft and kind of flat,” Glover said, adding that the SoCal athletes had to adjust to the chilly San Francisco wind.

Riordan, who had been held in check for most of the game, finally showed the form that helped them score over 35 points in their first two games against Sacred Heart Prep and Moreau Catholic.

Mitchell, who completed 27 of 39 passes for 282 yards, threw his second touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Chris Lawson with 8:46 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Foothill transfer tracked the deep ball over his shoulder and hauled it in for a 35-yard touchdown, adding to his 13-catch, 134-yard day. Lawson also had a five-yard touchdown reception in the first half.

“He’s a stud,” said Goyeneche. “[St. Bonaventure’s] Drew Cofield is a special corner and was in perfect position, but Mike was putting the ball right on him.”

Cynai Thomas, a sophomore wide receiver, also had several big catches during the quarter and finished with 10 catches and 111 yards.

St. Bonaventure responded with a six-play drive that ended with Koen Glover scoring from 25 yards down the right sideline. With 6:27 remaining, St. Bonaventure took a 17-14 lead on the Seraphs’ only run of more than 20 yards.

After Riordan’s first three-and-out of the day, St. Bonaventure took a two-score lead on a punt return by senior captain Cofield.

The Crusaders (2-1) were handed their first loss of the season after failing to score on their next two possessions.

Riordan will have a week off before beginning West Catholic Athletic League play against San Francisco rival St. Ignatius.

“The run-heavy attack and really good running back, it was good to see that early,” Jackson said. “Now we can get to work on what we need to do to put a stop to that.”

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