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PAUL RODRIGUEZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Canyon football players celebrate with their CIF-SS Southern Division championship plaque after beating host Brea Olinda on Friday.

Canyon surges in second half, claims Southern crown

STAFF WRITER

BREA – The senior class on this year’s Canyon football team remembers what used to be.

The feeling that the group had walking off of the Brea Olinda High football field Friday night, felt much better.

Thanks to strong second half in all phases of the game, Canyon wrapped up its run through the CIF-SS Southern Division with a 31-21 victory over North Hills League rival Brea Olinda in the final.

“I’ve been in the program for four years,” linebacker Christian Araiza said. “This feeling is surreal. I’m trying to process it right now. We’ve been through a lot the past four years and there’s no other ending I could have wanted for this team.”

Araiza is just one of many who decided to stick through the down times in hopes of a moment like Friday night.

“I’ve been playing football since I was 5,” he said. “A couple of guys I’ve been with since Pop Warner. A lot of the defense we’ve been together for a long time and we showed it tonight, finishing it off.”

Canyon (9-5) was held scoreless in the first half.

To open the second half, junior Connor Dunn took the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, helping the team settle down.

“That was the game-breaker,” Canyon coach Mike Ogas said of Dunn’s kickoff. “Everything was so tight and that took all of the pressure off of us.”

Still, Canyon and Ogas didn’t have time to celebrate until late. The Comanches took the lead for good, 10-9, with 4:43 left in the third quarter on Max Meyers’ 35-yard field goal.

In the fourth, Jason Harman connected with Trace Hobbs in the back of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown pass, and Elliot Payne retuned an interception for a touchdown to give Canyon a 24-9 lead with 4:41 left in the game.

“This is a testament to my staff, it is testament to our seniors who have been through a ton … they’ve had four coaches in four years. They responded to what we coached and what we were doing and this is the result.

The teams met in the final game of the regular season with Canyon winning, 26-0.

Brea Olinda (8-6) jumped on the board first thanks to Logan Bouvier’s 22-yard field goal on the first possession of the game. Canyon tried to tie it on is first possession, but failed to convert a 21-yard field-goal try.

Canyon’s best opportunity to score in the first half came late as the offense overcame a second-and-35 situation and had the ball on the Brea Olinda 15.

However with less than a minute remaining, Brea Olinda linebacker Steven Hayes intercepted Harman’s pass to kill the drive.

“We were tight,” Ogas said of his team in the first half. “That was not our offense. I don’t know what that was. They (Brea Olinda) had a lot to do with it. They came out and I knew they would come out swinging and they did.”

The Wildcats saved couple of late shots to make things interesting. With 1:04 left, Nick Drury connected with Jeremy Muehlhoff for a 3-yard touchdown pass. However, the extra point that would have made it a one-possession game was blocked.

Now, needing two scores, Brea Olinda successfully recovered an onside kick, but Canyon’s Josh Semaan intercepted Drury’s pass and returned it 70-plus yards for a touchdown.

Brea Olinda’s Noah Rivera then capped a wild sequence, returning the kickoff 80 yards for a TD as time expired.

“Honestly, we came out a little cocky and thought that were going to run over this team like we did the first time,” Araiza said. “In the second half we came out and proved that we were the better team.”

Contact the writer: dcalhoun@ocregister.com


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