Under a nearly full moon and with a full head of steam, the Bronco football team had two powerful goals going into their second CIF Southern Section home playoff game Friday, Nov. 15: 1) to defeat the team (Laguna Blanca) that handed Coast their only loss of the season on Sept. 27, and hence to move on in the post season; and 2) to make a statement in support of Coast’s revered volleyball coach and science teacher Pam Kenyon, who is on hiatus due to an illness.
Thanks to the aggressive efforts of their gifted and versatile quarterback, Angel Avina, and a cast of well-coached, well-disciplined, well-conditioned characters surrounding him, Coast Union accomplished both goals with flying colors, winning 47-20.
Indeed, the ball flew out of Avina’s hands 17 times for 10 completions, 134 yards and two touchdowns. When Avina wasn’t passing, he was exploding through and around the defense for 230 yards on 21 carries — crossing the goal line four times in the bargain.
For folks in the packed stands that were aware of the Bronco’s single loss (50-48), and Avina’s misfortune to have the ball stripped from his hands twice near the goal line, it was easy to discern early in the game that Avina was on a mission. Flat out, he was on fire. His energy could have powered the whole town with electricity. He was practically unstoppable as he made one great slicing, diving scamper after another.
That having been pointed out, Avina could not have enjoyed such extraordinary success had it not been for the brawny efforts of the offensive line. To wit, the blocking by Grant Magnuson, Alex de Alba, Kisslev Justo and Brian Loredo worked magic for Avina’s pounding legs.
As Head Coach Charlie Casale put it, “The entire offensive line plus the blocking of fullback Chuy Nunez and tailback Lane Sutherland knocked (the Owls’ front line) off the ball,” allowing Avina, Sutherland and Binh Trieu, to gain substantial yardage.
Sutherland picked up 140 yards on 22 carries — averaging 6.36 yards per carry — and made two tackles on defense. Trieu gained 68 yards on four carries and caught a dart from Avina for 34 yards. The redoubtable Emmany Godinez, fully recovered from his ankle injury, caught five passes for 53 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Tommy Howard, also back on the field after an ankle injury kept him sidelined, grabbed two of Avina’s passes for 18 yards.
The defense “played great,” Casale explained. The front four “put relentless pressure on their quarterback,” which resulted in seven sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception, Casale continued. Danny Rodriguez, whose hard-hitting style of play led to six tackles and a fumble recovery, had one of those quarterback sacks.
Magnuson had six tackles and a sack; Nunez had four tackles and a sack; and receiver Quinten Raethke (who snagged two passes for 29 yards) showed his defensive acumen by making three tackles and sacking the quarterback twice.
And Oscar Catalan, known for his tremendous kickoffs and reliable points after (he had five), was impressive on defense again, making seven tackles, intercepting a pass and clutching a touchdown pass from Avina.
Tommy Moreno played a key role on special teams. The Broncos rang up 27 points in the first quarter but the Owls roared back in the second quarter and briefly took the momentum away from Coast Union, scoring a touchdown. However, their onside kick attempt failed because Moreno alertly smothered the ball and the Broncos went on to score again on that drive.
So, notwithstanding the domination by Coast’s offense, Casale said that “the main difference” in the game was the defense. He added that the many hours during the offseason that the student athletes pumped iron in the weight room “gave us the ability to pound [the Owls] on offense.”
The Players of the Game, as selected by the coaching staff, were: Avina (overall player of the game); Sutherland (offensive player of the game); and Magnuson (defensive player of the game).
Next stop for the Broncos: the CIF Southern Section Division 1 8-man football semifinals against the Lucerne Valley Mustangs at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22. Coach Casale always says that his team “travels well,” and that assertion will be tested Friday because Lucerne Valley is 291 miles (and five hours) from comfortable Cambria.
Lucerne Valley High School is south of Barstow. It has 311 students. Its football team is 11-0 and 4-0 in the Agape League.
MaxPreps statistics show that the Mustangs have defeated teams like Antelope Valley Christian 96-6, and Victor Valley Christian, 70-7 this year, but those scores should be taken in context because Antelope Valley has won just five and lost 20 over the past three years and Victor Valley has won but three of 22 games over the past three years.
Still, games aren’t played on paper. And Coast Union players do well on the road, so getting into the final championship game on Nov. 29, the day after Thanksgiving, is not out of the realm of possibility. This Friday’s game will air live on KTEA-FM (103.5), and stream on www.ktea-fm.com.