If the Banning Pilots feel like they've got no room to breath, it's for good reason: they don't.
After going 2-3 in non-league play -- including losses against Taft and a pair of 4-1 Southern Section squads, Leuzinger and Orange Lutheran -- the Pilots open Marine League play Friday. And the Marine League, featuring Narbonne, Carson and undefeated San Pedro, is the best in the Los Angeles City Section.
For starters, Banning hosts Narbonne on Friday at 7 p.m. The Gauchos lost their first game last week, and it's a good bet they're not looking to drop two in a row.
Then comes Gardena (3-2), followed by the Pirates and the Colts.
"I thought we'd be rolling at this point," coach Chris Ferragamo said. "But we've struggled to get over the hump. It's just mistake after mistake. We're being too aggressive."
Ferragamo said his players make good initial hits, but they're not sustaining their blocks. That poor pass-blocking negates the air game. And when that's off, star running back Josh Limosnero sees extra defenders in the box.
Limosnero has 381 rushing yards and two touchdowns, but his 6.46 yards per carry average pales in comparison to last season's 11.72 mark. The decrease is partly a function of increased usage. The bad blocking, though, doesn't help.
After a season-opening 33-0 shutout of 1-4 Los Angeles, the Pilots are averaging just 16.3 points per game. They likely would have had more in their six-point loss at Leuzinger if they hadn't accumulated 190 penalty yards.
That won't cut it against Narbonne. The Gauchos' scoring-low is 28. They're led by USC-bound cornerback/receiver Byron Moore and three-star quarterback Josh Moten, and they've got four running backs with more than 100 yards.
"How we handle Narbonne will tell us a lot," Ferragamo said. "That'll indicate a lot about the rest of the season."
Please contact writer David Biderman at DVDDAB@Yahoo.com with questions, comments or suggestions for future stories -- all ideas will be considered.