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September 8, 2013In a NCP top 10 matchup, quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels led Bellarmine past El Cerrito in a 28-25 victory at De Anza High School. The Vanderbilt commit ran for 111 yards and three touchdowns as Bellarmine opened its season with a victory.
The opposing offenses couldn't have been more different as the Gauchos spread it out with the pistol and Bellarmine stuck to its traditional double-wing-T rushing attack.
El Cerrito was without wide receiver Jalen Harvey, a Cal commit, as he was serving a one-game suspension for an ejection he received in the Gauchos' opener. Despite the loss of its top receiver, El Cerrito had plenty of options in the passing game and had five wide receivers on the field on multiple occasions.
The Gauchos have lots of athletes who are either committed to Division I schools or should be receiving looks very soon. They use speed to their advantage for some big plays but the run game and special teams struggled. Both teams scored four touchdowns, but the Gauchos missed a kick and failed on a pair of two-point conversions before kicking an extra-point on their final score. El Cerrito was driving with under five minutes left in the game, but fumbled in Bellarmine territory and never got the ball back.
The Gauchos slid to 1-1 overall, but are still the favorites to win the Tri-County Athletic League Rock Division. With the athletes and speed they possess, watch for the talented senior class to make a run at a North Coast Section title. El Cerrito will face Cardinal Newman on the road next week.
As for Bellarmine, it was a typical grind-it-out victory. It may not have been as clean as the Bells had hoped, including an errant fumble that was returned for a touchdown, but they will take the win and move forward. They are strong in the trenches on both sides of the ball and have a solid linebacking core as well. Bellarmine may not possess the athleticism of the Gauchos, but have the system to compete each season.
Bellarmine and Serra will be the top contenders for the West Catholic Athletic League title as Serra was impressive in a narrow 21-14 loss to De La Salle earlier in the day. The Bells will play San Leandro at Burrell Field next week.
Keilan Benjamin 6-foot-0, 170 pounds QB/ATH El Cerrito (2014): The Gaucho quarterback was 20-of-39 for 259 yards and a touchdown on Saturday. He's athletic and mobile as well which showed in 71 rushing yards and a pair of touchdown runs. Benjamin has a strong arm, but had some accuracy issues on occasions. He has the tools to be successful at quarterback, but has the athleticism and size where he can move out to wide receiver if needed. Keilan and his twin brother, Keith, hold offers from Eastern Washington.
Keith Benjamin 6-foot-0, 160 pounds WR El Cerrito (2014): To no surprise, Keith had great chemistry with his twin brother as he hauled in nine passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. He was effective in screen plays and underneath routes which can make him a potential slot receiver at the next level. Although Benjamin did have a fumble, it was while fighting for extra yardage. He is a speedy receiver with good hands.
Derik Calhoun 6-foot-0, 215 pounds LB El Cerrito (2014): The USC commit returned a fumble for a 15 yard touchdown for El Cerrito's first score. Calhoun may not have prototypical size for the middle linebacker spot, but makes up for it with his instincts and physical play. He is a bulky run stopper and a leader on the defensive side of the ball.
Curt Calomeni 5-foot-9, 185 pounds FB/LB Bellarmine (2015): Calomeni was a good pass rusher who was a part of a strong linebacking core. He's also a key piece in the Bellarmine offense with his blocks and runs in short yardage situations.
K.J. Carta-Samuels 6-foot-4, 205 pounds QB Bellarmine (2014): The top performer on Saturday showed his toughness and mobility with 111 rushing yards on 16 carries. Carta-Samuels only threw the ball three times, with one completion for five yards, but is the general of the wing-T offense who isn't afraid to block for his teammates. He already has the size and bulk for the next level and has added muscle over the offseason. The Vanderbilt commit is a leader who will be key for the Bellarmine offense.
Joe Castignani 6-foot-2, 215 pounds OT/LB Bellarmine (2014): Castignani is an effective pass rusher on blitzes and has a good feel for the linebacker position. He played middle linebacker for the Bells but has the speed to move outside at the next level. The senior holds an offer from Sacramento State.
Jawian Harrison 5-foot-10, 175 pounds WR/S El Cerrito (2014): The transfer from Salesian had a spectacular catch in the first quarter and was effective at the safety position as well. He had three catches for 26 yards and forced the fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Harrison doesn't shy away from contact and looked good in coverage, although Bellarmine only threw the ball three times. He's an under-the-radar recruit who can see his stock rise in his senior year.
Elijah Marshall 6-foot-1, 195 pounds RB/LB Bellarmine (2014): Marshall made tackles all over the field on defense and was consistently in the opposing backfield. He also made a contribution in the run game as one of many options in the Bellarmine backfield.
Adarius Pickett 5-foot-11, 175 pounds WR/CB El Cerrito (2014): It was tough to scout the recent UCLA commit due to the lack of pass plays from Bellarmine, but he was a playmaker on the offensive side with five catches for 105 yards. He has the speed and size for the corner position but showcased himself as an elite receiver for El Cerrito.