Suh emerges as Buttons’ featured back
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Central Catholic, Lanier.
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Lanier back Julian Castillo ran 23 times for 84 yards.
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Jimin Suh was visiting his native South Korea this summer when he got the news he would have a different football coach when he returned stateside.
Suh and his Central Catholic teammates seemed to have thrived under new coach L.D. Green’s regime. The former Buttons assistant returned in June after Don Byrd retired following his second season at the school.
Central Catholic (1-0) not only won Green’s head coaching debut, and the season opener for both teams. The Buttons pitched a shutout for the first time since last Oct. 25, defeating Lanier (0-1) 30-0 in the first game at venerable Alamo Stadium in two seasons.
“When Coach Byrd (retired), I wasn’t even thinking about who the new coach would be,” Suh said. “But Coach Green is really good at motivating. He’s a really good coach. I appreciate his work ethic, what he’s taught us and how he loves us.”
Suh was one of three Buttons who scored touchdowns on consecutive possessions coming out of halftime. Central Catholic crowded all of its scoring into the middle two quarters at the renovated Rock Pile.
“We had to get all the butterflies out,” Green said. “We made too many mistakes, but we showed great composure and played all four quarters. We didn’t give up. We played within ourselves.”
Meanwhile, Lanier threatened to score early, but crossed midfield just once in the second half. The Buttons held the Voks to 154 total yards and five first downs.
“The defense played hard,” Central Catholic senior quarterback Joseph Nava said. “They deserve all the credit for the second half .”
Central Catholic established a 10-0 halftime lead, then dominated the second half.
The Buttons increased their lead to more than two touchdowns with 6:35 left in the third quarter. Nava completed a 20-yard pass to Joe Barrera early in the drive and a critical 21-yard throw to Jaime Nava on fourth-and-8 that kept the series alive.
Tyler Acosta ran two yards for the score.
Suh (102 yards, 16 carries) recorded the next touchdown little more than three minutes later on a nine-yard run. The senior gained all 35 yards on drive on three carries after a short punt.
About two weeks ago, Green had tinkered with the idea of rotating several backs. Last year, Suh shared the position with junior Jacob Rodriguez, who’s concentrating on defense. Although sophomore Thomas Palomera (55 yards, 10 carries) played well in a backup role Thursday, the job is Suh’s.
“Jimin is a tough runner,” Green said. “He knows how to hit the hole very hard. He really stepped up and became the guy.”
Central Catholic increased its lead to 30 points with 40 seconds left in the third quarter, when Joseph Nava (51 yards, 14 attempts) scored on a 19-yard touchdown ramble.
Suh credited the Buttons’ second-half push to their offseason weight program, run by Buttons assistants Danny Sanchez and Randy Walker, before Green was hired.
“Our team worked really hard in the summer,” Suh said. “I think that’s what got us to win. We’re more used to the end – in hot conditions. I think that was the main thing.”
The Voks didn’t cross the 50 until less than three minutes remained. Phoenix Perez did the honors with a 16-yard scamper.
“I’m pretty proud of how those guys came together,” Green said of his defense. “One of our goals was to win third down. Winning third down was pretty important. We got a couple of takeaways, which helped us.”
Lanier took a shot at the end zone in its second possession, following an interception from Steve Torres. However, Jeremiah Esquivel (51 passing yards) was unable to connect with his pass.
Esquivel later had a 42-yard completion to Elijah Cortez, but the drive ended with a fumble at the Central Catholic 13.
While Esquivel made his first start under center, Julian Castillo (84 yards, 23 carries) was called on to be the Voks’ workhouse back. Joe Orta, who led the team in rushing last year as a sophomore, did not play.
Central Catholic took the lead five seconds into the second quarter on a 31-yard field goal from junior Ryan McColley-Perez.
The teams traded fumbles midway through the second quarter. Lanier’s Juan Palomino came up with the ball at the Voks 44. Following a Lanier penalty, Central Catholic reclaimed it and scored.
Acosta recovered the fumble at the Voks 31. One play later, Joseph Nava (9 of 21, 138 yards) threw a 31-yard scoring pass to Jaime Nava. The Buttons led 10-0 with 5:50 remaining in the half.
Tyler Acosta fumble recovery, shortly after fumble recovery by Lanier’s Juan Palomino.
“Something changed when we were able to take it over the top and get in the end zone,” Green said. “That was the turning point.”
Central Catholic didn’t capitalize immediately. The Buttons lost the ball on downs and Nava threw his second interception before the half ended.
“We were still up 10,” Joseph Nava said. “We were just trying to push through to the second half.”
The Buttons committed three first-half turnovers, while Lanier lost two.
“We got all that first game nervousness out,” Joseph Nava said. “We had a rough start, but we were really clicking by the second quarter.”
Troy Lozano made three receptions covering 62 yards for the Buttons.