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AOW: Bulldog QB points to O-line as key to success

October 23, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer
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At the beginning of the high school football season, Calexico coach Richard Gonzalez talked about the importance of his offense maintaining a balance with passing and running games.

In order to get the offense going, Gonzalez instilled his trust in quarterback Odin Ayala, a 16-year-old junior. Until this season Ayala had never played a varsity game but was given the duty of being the Bulldogs' offensive field general.

What might have been risky has so far paid off as Ayala has turned into one of the best quarterbacks in the Imperial Valley.

Ayala added to his resúmé Friday as he led Calexico to a 54-26 hammering of Holtville High, passing for 252 yards and two touchdowns.

While many would like to point to Ayala as the difference in the outcome, he takes little to no credit for the team's success.

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"My whole team helped me a lot. And it all started with my front five. They gave me the time I needed to throw the ball," said the 5-foot-10 Ayala. "It wasn't just me, it was also the other 10 guys on the field."

The most important key Ayala points to is his offensive line, anchored by 6-foot-3, 285-pound right tackle Kevin Carvajal. Joining Carvajal as Ayala's personal protectors are center Adrian Patron, guards Salvador Tamayo, David Romero and Alex Rodriguez — all three alternate time at both guard positions — and the most important player on the offense, left tackle Ralph Hernandez, who guards Ayala's blind side.

Demonstrating how dominant the offensive line has been is their combined sack total for the season. In six games this year, four wins, Ayala has only been sacked once. And that one time he admits may have been his fault as he was tripped up on a roll out.

"When I was going into this game, just like every game, I have a lot of trust in my line. I really rely on them," said Ayala. "When I first started playing this year I was a little nervous. But as the season's gone on, I've realized that the line is going to take care of me. Now I just have faith knowing that they're going to get the job done."

And just like they've been doing all year, they got the job done against Holtville, not allowing a sack and allowing Ayala to light up the Viking secondary early, as he threw for 183 yards and a TD in the first half.

"Last week it was really important for us to have a big game and not let down," said Ayala. "We wanted to win that Holtville game to set us up going into league against Brawley this week. I think that win will give us some momentum for this week."

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