GREELEY — With pregame warmups nearing an end, Erie quarterback Chantz Schenbeck rolled out, tripped over a teammate and met the natural-grass surface of District 6 Stadium shoulder-first.
All signs pointed to a broken left collarbone, a diagnosis Schenbeck confirmed after the game.
Erie players tried not to blame the injury for Saturday’s performance in a 40-8 loss to Northridge, but however you slice it, things just aren’t quite the same when you lose your starting QB minutes before the game.
“We’ve really been working with two QBs at practice and we’re getting to the point where we can just switch those two guys out,” Tigers running back David Unruh said. “But it’s hard when it’s a last-second type of switch.”
Sophomore Ruben Portillo started in Schenbeck’s and didn’t have the benefit of Erie’s typically effective running game. Portillo completed 11 of 28 passes for 137 yards, but the Grizzlies (3-3, 2-1) picked him off on four straight possessions in the second half as Erie strove to cut into a large-scale deficit.
After starting the season 3-0, the Tigers have dropped three straight — all Class 3A Northern League games.
“It all starts at practice,” running back/linebacker Elijah Roper said. “We have to come back, do the work in the weight room and on and off the field. That’s it. It’s a matter of attitude and effort, and some guys aren’t giving the effort.”
Erie defensive back Ryan True picked off Brenden Fulton on the second play of the contest, but the Northridge QB rebounded to finish 15 for 21 with 301 yards and three TDs. Favorite target Jay Frye caught seven passes for 141 yards and two scores.
Frye made several sterling catches while tightly covered by Erie defensive backs.
“Our DBs were in spots,” Roper said. “We’ve played against better quarterbacks, but our DBs were going up for balls and getting outjumped by millimeters, and kids were bringing balls down. Good crew of receivers.”
Erie (3-3, 0-3) drove to the Northridge 7-yard line late in the first half, but couldn’t come away with points and entered the locker room down 27-0. The Tigers finally punched it in on their final drive, when backup QB Jimmy Martinez hit Matt Sorenson for a 14-yard TD. The tandem connected for the two-point conversion as well.
“We just have to focus on the positives and keep fighting,” Erie coach Chris Summers said. “That’s the bottom line. We have a lot of football next and we’re going to regroup next week and claw and scratch our way the rest of the season.”
One of those positives was Unruh, a sophomore who racked up a team-best 65 rushing yards on seven carries.
“We just have to find the fire,” Unruh said. “We’re going against the F-Word (rival Frederick) next week and we just have to find that drive, find that intensity again.”
Standout linebacker Triston Berringer also missed the game after enduring a dislocated left kneecap early in last week’s home loss to Berthoud. Berringer said the injury doesn’t figure to be season-ending and that he hopes to be back within a few weeks.
The Tigers likely will be without Schenbeck for the foreseeable future as well.
“It’s a tough thing, but we get multiple guys reps all week, so it’s plug and play,” Roper said. “Viper (Portillo) stepped up and played really well, actually.”
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Northridge 40, Erie 8
At District 6 Stadium
Erie (3-3, 0-3) 0 0 0 8 — 8
Northridge (3-3, 2-1) 14 13 7 6 — 40
Northridge — Brenden Fulton 1 run (kick blocked). Northridge — Jay Frye 47 pass from Fulton (Willy Castillo run).
Northridge — Jay Frye 13 pass from Fulton (kick failed). Northridge — Castillo 1 run (Kyla Beck kick).
Northridge — Fulton 64 run (Beck kick).
Northridge — Justin Frye 49 pass from Fulton (kick blocked). Erie — Matt Sorenson 14 pass from Jimmy Martinez (Sorenson pass from).
RUSHING — Erie: Unruh 7-65, Roper 6-34, Campbell 1-26, Jensen 8-18, Portillo 2-(minus 16). Northridge: Castillo 12-50, Fulton 8-36, Lopez 5-3, Williams 2-3, Dodge 3-(minus 2).
PASSING — Erie: Portillo 11-28-4-137, Martinez 1-1-0-14. Northridge: Fulton 15-21-1-301.
RECEIVING — Erie: Roper 6-50, Conilogue 2-52, Loefler 1-22, Sorenson 1-14, Dotson 1-7, Brow 1-6. Northridge: Ja. Frye 7-141, Werner 4-77, Ju. Frye 3-78, Castillo 1-5.