With icy rain pelting down, the temperature dropping to 27 degrees and a Mustang team raring to buck the visiting Broncos out of the playoff picture, Coast Union prevailed Friday night, Nov. 22, by a convincing score (48-22), propelling themselves into the CIF Southern Section Division 1 eight-man championship game Saturday, Nov. 30, against Faith Baptist in Canoga Park.
Once again quarterback Angel Avina showed the poise and leadership that every good team must have from its signal caller.
There were two pivotal moments in this water-logged contest that turned things Coast Union’s way. Late in the first half, with Coast Union holding on to a 21-6 lead, the Lucerne Valley’s leading rusher (and receiver) Lonye Logan caught a touchdown pass to close the gap to 21-14.
With their new-found momentum and the rain pelting the field even harder than it had been, the Mustangs again went to their talented star Logan on a long pass. Suddenly Lucerne Valley was at the Bronco 10-yard line, threatening to tie the score going into half time.
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But great and constant pressure from Coast’s defensive front four (with backs against their own end zone) caused a fumble and senior nose guard Grant Magnuson fell on the ball to thwart that threat.
The second pivotal play came early in the second half. Once again terrific pressure from the Broncos defensive front forced Mustang quarterback Daniel Stratton to scramble. In an apparent moment of panic, with a Bronco closing in on him, Stratton lofted the ball downfield. Instead of the kind of crisp, accurate throw Stratton was known for, this one squirted up into the ink-black night, wobbling like a wounded duck.
It fluttered down into the arms of Danny Rodriguez, one of Coast Union’s most consistently excellent defenders, and Rodriquez raced down the wet field 55 yards for a touchdown — his first this season. That moved the score to 28-14, but shortly thereafter Rodriguez recovered another fumble — and, after Avina dashed five yards for his second touchdown, Coast led 35-14.
The positive yardage and scoring was shared by several Broncos. Unofficially, Avina picked up 70 yards and scored two touchdowns; Binh Trieu gained 73 yards and had a 35-yard run for one touchdown and a 6-yard carry for another score.
Lane Sutherland saw limited action but scored on a 4-yard run and had an interception. Emmany Godinez caught passes for 33 yards and scored on an interception, hustling 15 yards after picking off the Mustang quarterback. Quinten Raethke picked up 40 yards on a pass from Avina; Chuy Nunez gained 14 yards rushing and Juan Leonardo picked up a dozen yards on the ground.
Sutherland, Oscar Catalan, Alex de Alba and Raethke each are credited with three tackles and Rodriguez had five and a half tackles and a fumble recovery. Nunez and Ryder Sebring each had a sack of the Mustang quarterback.
Head Coach Charlie Casale said the Broncos fairly tough schedule — playing and beating good teams like Kings Christian and Orcutt — has “prepared us well.” Indeed, this could be a pivotal moment in Coast Union athletic history: the last time a Bronco football team won the CIF championship was 1979.