We were in attendance this past Friday when Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure took on Encino (Calif.) Crespi. We were interested to see how the Seraphs would bounce back after being dismantled a week earlier by Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian and St. Bonny athlete Blaine Irby answered that question on the games first play.
In a game loaded with Div I prospects, several of which were underclassmen, Irby was the most impressive athlete on the field. At a rock solid 6-2, 230 pounds, Irby looks like a college player right now. After playing primarily on the offensive side of the ball as a junior, Irby is seeing full time action on defense this year and has looked great.
Irby immediately made his presence known picking off a Crespi pass on the first play of the game. That was only the beginning as Irby shadowed Celt star receiver D.J. Holt all game long and showed incredible versatily by covering the receiver 30 yards down the field on one play and then pressuring the quarterback or stuffing the run on the next play.
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"I didn't make a lot of plays on offense tonight so I tried to make up for it on defense," Irby said. "I still like offense and that's where I'm planning to play at Texas, at tight end, but defense is a lot of fun too."
Irby has a great combination of size, speed and strength and is a very tough, physical player as well. He doesn't stay blocked and really uses his hands well. He's also a sure tackler and had several huge hits in this game. In fact, Irby was so impressive defensively, that after seeing him in action Friday, he looks like he could be a major impact player as a college linebacker.
As for getting over the tough loss to Oaks Christian the previous week.
"None of us expected that to happen," Irby said. "Oaks is probably the best team to come out of CA in the last 10 years so there is definitely no shame in losing to those guys. It was just the way we lost that was disappointing but we showed a lot of heart bouncing back tonight against a good Crespi team."