GIBSONTON — When East Bay High School coach Frank LaRosa and his staff studied game video of Robinson, they spotted something on kickoffs.
So when the Indians won the toss, they deferred. They wanted to kick off to start the game.
The video paid off. East Bay recovered its onside kick, although it touched the ball a couple of feet too early, giving Robinson a short field.
Undeterred, when the Indians kicked off again about five minutes later, they tried the onside kick again. This time, they succeeded, setting up their second touchdown and launching them to a 35-12 victory.
"I thought starting the game (like that) might catch them in a surprise situation," LaRosa said. "(Ewan Kenny) is really good at that surprise onside kick, and our formation allows us to be already set up for it. We were really, really close on that first one. Then, I did it the second time because we got the extra 15 on the (Robinson) penalty, so at that point an onside kick would have put them close to the 20 if we didn’t recover it."
East Bay (3-0) needed only two snaps after the second onside kick to cover 34 yards with Javon Stephens accounting for the last six to give the Indians a 15-0 lead.
"We are always preparing for (onside kicks), but we had a little bit of a mental lapse up front and they caught us," Robinson coach Craig Everhart said. "And in high school, there is always such a small margin (between winning and losing) … we can’t have situations where we get down early like that."
In between the onside kicks, Robinson marched into the red zone on its first possession. However, sophomore Jayden Williams blocked the Knights’ field goal attempt, spotted at the 25. The ball ended up in the hands of senior Joaquin Isidro, who returned it 80 yards for the game’s first score.
"Williams is a fantastic athlete," LaRosa said. "He has kept getting closer and closer (to blocking one) this year. We were like, if you’ll just lay out, you are going to get one. And he finally did."
Late in the quarter, East Bay’s Tre Everett intercepted a pass that, combined with a facemask penalty, gave the Indians the ball at the 25. Four plays later, Isidro scored from four yards out, giving East Bay a decisive 22-0 lead despite having run just eight offensive plays.
Although Robinson (1-2) moved the ball consistently, the Knights only scored on a pair of touchdown passes from Kobe Copple, a 14-yarder to Quinton Lane late in the second and a 16-yarder to Cameron Lockridge in the opening minute of the fourth. Copple, who completed 14 of his first 19 passes, finished 18-of-32 for 159 yards.
Everett led East Bay with nine carries for 136 yards, including the Indians last touchdown, a 35-yard run in the fourth. Isidro accounted for the remaining score, a 6-yard run, as part of his 14 carry, 63-yard night.
Up next: Robinson is home against Spoto while East Bay travels to face Durant.