Fresh off of their best offensive game this year, a 63-21 win over Gregori, Turlock senior running back Lucas Curtis said when the Bulldogs “put together the pieces” on offense, they can’t be stopped.
“Everybody shares that theory,” Curtis said. “We are clicking.”
They have been clicking for most of the year.
Last year, they averaged 26.5 points per game while this year they average 36. Curtis only had three touchdowns last year but already has 15 in nine games in 2018.
For Curtis and some of other stars on offense such as senior quarterback Jonah Kosakiewicz and senior tight end/wide receiver Cameran Sherwood, the success didn’t just happen overnight.
The process began when the lights weren’t on and the coaches weren’t around:
Seven days a week. Sometimes an hour, sometimes two or three. Maybe running routes one day or just playing catch on another.
Kosakiewicz and Sherwood spent many hot summer afternoons working on building a better connection.
“There were a lot of times where I would call Jonah or he would text me and say ‘Lets go to the field, lets throw and get a couple of routes in,’” Sherwood said.
Sherwood, also known as Cameran “Surehands” Sherwood by Kosakiewicz, has become his quarterback’s favorite target, especially on third down.
“If I put it in a three-foot radius, he is going to catch the ball no matter what,” Kosakiewicz said. “I try not to but if I have to, he will take that beating from the defender and still come down with the ball. He is so reliable.”
Sherwood had eight receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns last year and has 33 catches for 565 yards and six touchdowns this year.
The work went beyond the quarterback and tight end. Multiple groups worked out together for one purpose — to win.
“It was just guys who said we have potential this year and we could do a lot of things,” Sherwood said. “They knew how big of a season it could be for them.”
Curtis spent his off-season taking his game “to another level” and got stronger in the weight room. Offensive linemen watched film together. Some wide receivers got together to work on routes.
Still, to have a success on offense, you need that one player who can lead it and the Bulldogs have that with Kosakiewicz.
“Last year, it was his first year on varsity and he did a great job,” Sherwood said. “This year, being the senior quarterback, he is kind of running the show on offense.”
Kosakiewicz didn’t start playing quarterback until his freshman year and previously was a running back, perhaps the biggest reason why he isn’t afraid of contact when he is running with the ball in the open field.
“I kind of grew up never going to the sidelines and fighting for yards,” Kosakiewicz said. “I still have the mindset when I am playing quarterback where if I am coming up to a defender, I might as well send a message and pick up two yards rather than step out of bounds and make him feel like he won.”
Gregori coach Jason McCoy said he hasn’t seen a quarterback who attacks opposing defenders like that in a long time.
“He is like a linebacker playing quarterback,” McCoy said. “He is a fearless player. He was at a different level.”
Kosakiewicz, who has “a little pep in his step,” in him, according to Bulldogs coach James Peterson, has accounted for more than 2,000 yards this year. As a passer, he’s completed 80 of 129 attempts for 1,463 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s rushed for a team-leading 615 yards and seven touchdowns on 124 attempts.
“I feel like we work better as a unit this year,” Kosakiewicz said.
What also makes this offense so successful is they work as a group and have a lot of selfless players. Six Bulldogs have at least one rushing touchdown and five have at least one receiving touchdown.
“There are so many different things we can do on offense,” Sherwood said. “We have different players we can go to when we need big plays. We can pound the ball when we need to and throw the ball when we need to.”
Curtis has been one of the X-factors for the offense and Sherwood has one the highest IQ’s on the team, Peterson said.
“(Curtis) is that special guy on offense,” Peterson said. “He is our breakaway guy. (Sherwood) can do it all.”
The pieces in the puzzle will be key when the Bulldogs face Pitman in the Harvest Bowl on Friday for the Central California Athletic League title.
“We have the ability to spread the ball around,” Curtis said. “Especially in our last game against Gregori, everybody scored and it was just like passing out candy. It was amazing to watch.”
And achievable, in part, to all that work on hot summer nights.