By the time he marched onto the field - at the front of the platoon- quarterback Orbi Gonzales had found it:
The game ball, one he had screened and selected.
But after a few tosses with backup QB something was up. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but he knew he had to go to his backup choice. It just felt right.
Apparently, it was the right choice. Gonzales led the Crusaders to a 51-8 quarterfinal win against Tempe Prep, with 159 yards in the first half alone.
"Orbi came out with the ball that he liked," said Dave Inness. "You know how quarterbacks are. If Orbi likes that ball, that's the one we're going to use."
Behind Gonzales' arm, the Crusaders beat Tempe Prep for the second time in three weeks, and move on to the Div. V semifinals to face St. Johns next Saturday.
Gonzales struck first with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Osborne, who broke his route and headed for the corner where he found himself wide open for the touchdown.
After the Crusaders (12-0) stopped the Knights (7-5) eight plays later, Gonzales found Osborne again and he charged 75 downfield for the touchdown.
"He was like my last read, and he saw that I was in trouble, so he cut it a little it more flat, so it was another good read on his part to cut it more flat to give me a good option," Gonzales said. "I have confidence in all my receivers.
"... We don't have to pass that much because we have such a great running back in Casey Jahn, but it's good to be able to go out and throw when we need to."
The Knights, however, came out with some swagger; driving to the Crusaders' 22. But then Tempe Prep lost a fumble, which Northwest's Jeff Kortman took 78 yards for a touchdown.
"I think if we could have punched it in, it's a game of momentum, we go up 7-0 and the guys would have fought even harder, and it would have been a different game," Tempe Prep coach Thomas Brittain said. "But they're a great team. They have no real weaknesses and you can't make mistakes against a team like that."
The Crusaders limited Tempe Prep to only 53 yards of total offense in the first half, as Northwest amassed a 24-0 lead after Michael Costello pitched in a 25-yard field goal.
Northwest Christian saw Kortman go from boggling the kickoff to bounding up field 99 yards for a touchdown to start the second half.
"We play pretty good 'D'," said Inness. "We knew that they could probably get one or two, but they're going to have to earn it; so we just stayed in our base because our safeties, they come up and hit."
After Northwest had pulled its starters, the Crusaders' Hunter McShanag logged two touchdowns of his own, from 17 and 3 yards out, respectively.
Separating those two scores was the Knights' lone touchdown, a 54-yard pass from Forest Redlin to a wide open Connor Gourley who sprint the rest of the way with 7:17 left in the game.