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Sierra Scene

Raiders’ Cable was only fooling himself

By: Todd Mordhorst, Journal Sports Editor
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When punter Shane Lechler did his best Harlem Globetrotter impression and Sebastian Janikowski (yes, the 6-foot-2, 250-pound kicker) was called on to run for a first down on fourth-and-10, those of us in the press box at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum could only look around and ask, “Huh?” The Raiders’ season hit a new low when Kansas City’s Maurice Leggett picked up the not-so-surprising fumble and took it 67 yards for the go-ahead touchdown in the second quarter last Sunday. Tom Cable’s career as a head coach was spiked to the ground along with the football as Leggett celebrated. The Raiders coach made a feeble attempt at explaining the trick play in the press conference after the game. “We’ve never had a problem with it for almost two years now in practice,” Cable said. “They’ve handled it well. They just didn’t execute it.” At any level, the trick play is a delicate piece of the game. Some coaches opt not to play with fire at all. Placer High coach Joey Montoya, is not one of them. He has been known to dig deep into the playbook to keep teams off balance. On Friday night, he went to the old hook-and-lateral play as Cameron Southward caught the pass from Matt Ross and pitched the ball to Asher Gotzmer. The play went for 19 yards and brought a huge roar from the Placer faithful. Against Oakdale, Southward had a momentum-turning onside kick — recovered by Connor McKenzie — to help the Hillmen spring the upset. “As a coach you just have those plays ready, work on them throughout the year and when the time is right, you make the call,” Montoya said. Cable’s folly on his fake field goal call was a result of timing, design and strategy. At the time of the ill-fated fake, the game was tied 3-3 and the Raiders were looking sharp. Janikowski is almost automatic from 43 yards out and there was no real need to take a gamble like that. The play was far too difficult to execute under game conditions. Lechler had to make a between-the-legs toss to Janikowski, who some say is the slowest player on the Raiders’ roster. The kicker then had to turn the corner and somehow pick up 10 yards. Even if he broke into the open field, the chances of him out-running a Chiefs defender were slim. Even if the play had worked, would anyone have exalted Cable as a genius? Probably not. “There has to be some wisdom and judgement when you use them,” Montoya said of the trick play. “If it works out, it’s a great call. It’s a win or lose situation as far as how people view it.” qqq Todd Mordhorst’s column runs Sundays in the Journal. Comment online at www.auburnjournal.com.