Aaron Zwahlen, an angular presence at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, awaits the shotgun snap while his Downey High Knights span the field and await his lethal throws.
If any scene best captures the 2012 Modesto Metro Conference season, it's Zwahlen and the Knights hustling to the line, anxious to do business.
Zwahlen continued his storybook season Friday night by passing for five touchdowns and a deuce before halftime. Downey built a 49-0 lead before the officials wound the clock through the second half of a 52-14 rout over Gregori.
"Last year I threw off my back foot too much. I've worked on more forward body lean," Zwahlen said. "That's helped me a lot. I'm a lot more confident."
His confidence now rubs off on his teammates. The Knights zip up and down the field without a huddle in what coach Jeremy Plaa calls "Mayhem."
"It's who controls the mayhem the best," Zwahlen said.
Downey owns the mayhem so far.
Zwahlen has gained 10 pounds for his senior year, and his passes buzz to his receivers with authority. He hit Richard Lopez (89 yards on a busted coverage), Tristan Best (11 yards) and Michael Falepouono (3 yards) for touchdowns before Gregori ran four plays on offense.
Such was the dominance displayed by the Knights (5-1, 2-0) before about 3,000 at Dan Gonsalves Field. Zwahlen upped his touchdown total second-best in California before kickoff to 28.
"He (Zwahlen) is stronger and can make every single throw. He's a leader and has complete control of the offense," Plaa said. "He's ready for the next level. He'll do well at the next level."
Downey made fast work of Gregori (1-5, 1-1), which celebrated its "Up-And-Coming," the next-best-thing to a homecoming for a school with seniors on campus for the first time. The Jaguars, who celebrated their historic first varsity victory last week (over Modesto), were mismatched this night.
The Knights' defense scored on the first play from scrimmage. Gregori sophomore Nate Phillips quickly threw over the middle though his receiver wasn't looking for the pass. Downey's Herman Harris gathered it in and stepped 58 yards for the TD.
Downey onside-kicked four straight times and recovered two. The lead mushroomed to 28-0 before the end of the first quarter.
"They (Downey) are a fine-oiled machine. This is their year," Gregori coach Jason McCoy praised. "That team over there (Downey), it didn't just happen for them overnight. That's what we're going to do. I can assure you that."
Zwahlen, his night at quarterback finished before halftime, completed 10 of 18 passes for 176 yards. When he didn't throw, he handed off to Juan Vaa-Ayala, who ripped over the middle for 117 yards on 12 carries. He scooted into the end zone on the final play of the half for the Knights' closing touchdown.
The Jaguars scored late in the game on Phillips' 65-yard run and his 9-yard pass to Alec Pearson. By then, however, Downey already was surveying what's ahead.
The Knights never have won an MMC title. It shared a Central California Conference championship in 2003.
"It (a championship) is the next step in the building of our program," Plaa said.