All year, the odds seemed to stack up against the Templeton High football team.
Dealing with the loss of last season’s star, Tyler Gray, the school’s first prospect in history to sign with an FBS team out of high school, and figuring out the new schemes from a new head coach, the Eagles looked like a longshot to clinch back-to-back postseason berths.
But not only did the Eagles make the playoffs, they won a commanding first-round matchup over Carpinteria.
Quarterback Alex Elterman threw for two scores, running back Conner Truhitte scored three more and the Eagles (6-5) defeated the Warriors 41-28 on Friday night in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Northwest Division playoffs.
The win comes one week after a crushing loss to Nipomo in the final game of the regular season. In a rain-soaked game, the Titans shut out the Eagles 12-0.
“We’re such a young team that even this late in the season we’re trying to find ourselves,” Templeton coach Dan Loney said. “I told them before the game, we haven’t been able to come from behind yet and overcome adversity. And to define what type of team we are, we’re going to have to overcome that.”
The Eagles did so in a big way, as the first half against the Warriors went entirely Templeton’s way. The Eagles struck first, with wide receiver Tobey Isbell hauling in a 55-yard touchdown pass from Elterman to put Templeton up 7-0 in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Eagles found the end zone twice. Truhitte scored on a 3-yard run, and Elterman found Isbell again, this time from 30 yards out to take a 21-0 lead into the break.
“We worked hard this week, getting used to routes and knowing exactly where those receivers need to be,” Loney said. “The weather I think played a little bit of a factor (last week) and with good weather I think they were able to have the confidence in themselves to make plays like that.”
However in the second half, the Warriors took over. Elterman threw an interception on the first drive of the second half and after a 15-yard pass interference penalty, the Warriors made it 21-7 off a 9-yard pass from Ian Craddock to Anthony Garcia.
They made it 21-14 after a Matt Arace fumble two possessions later, which Carpinteria capitalized on with a 5-yard TD run from Alex Rodriguez.
The Warriors and Eagles then traded touchdowns to make it 28-21, setting the stage for Truhitte. Breaking numerous tackles, Truhitte scored from 32 yards out to put the game out of reach.
“It’s going to come down to heart, and how much you want it,” Loney said. “The hard part is over. This is the fun stuff. “Whoever is the best that Friday night is going to win.”
Elterman finished the game going 6 for 12 with 120 yards and an interception. Isbell was his favorite target as he caught four passes for 105 yards. Truhitte led the Eagles on the ground with 73 yards. Running back Matt Arace had 50.
Defensive lineman Casey Dakin scored Templeton’s final touchdown on a 25-yard interception return.
Templeton will play either St. Bernard or South Torrance next week.