Eighteen minutes before El Camino and Point Loma kicked off the 2017 football season, Rihanna’s “Turn On The Lights” blasted across the public address system. It was a fitting selection.
Point Loma High first opened its doors in 1925. Friday night, some 92 years later, the Pointers played their first game under permanent lights. There was only one issue. El Camino wanted nothing to do with the nostalgic evening.
The eighth-ranked Wildcats more than lived up to their billing, routing the Pointers 34-12. Wide receiver Malachi Russell, who transferred from Orange Glen and wasn’t ruled eligible until Thursday, destroyed the hosts.
Russell pulled down eight catches for 222 yards and three touchdowns. The TDs covered 23, 20 and 74 yards.
Regarding the uncertainty of playing, Russell said, “I was getting impatient. I didn’t want to (practice) hard.”
Then came word he was cleared, followed by Friday’s performance.
“I felt so relieved,” he said.
A 6-foot, 170-pound speedster, Russell knows how to get open. He caught 87 passes for 1,742 yards and 24 TDs last year at Orange Glen.
It was seven days of uncertainty for El Camino. One week before the season opener, the Wildcats learned they would be without head coach Jerry Ralph. An Oceanside school district representative only confirmed that Ralph would not coach the Wildcats on Friday.
Defensive coordinator Michael Hobbs served as head coach in Ralph’s absence. Hobbs said the team does not know Ralph’s future status.
“The kids never missed a beat,” said Hobbs, whose defense forced four sacks and picked off one pass.
“Our guys play with relentlessness,” Hobbs said. “We’re coming after you with hostile intentions.”
Norcross is a freelance writer.