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ED CRISOSTOMO, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Buena Park's Nik Needham, right, makes a 24-yard touchdown grab against Fullerton's Donald Woullard in final seconds of the first half Friday at Fullerton High.

Buena Park sets up showdown for Freeway title

OCVARSITY.COM

FULLERTON – The Buena Park football team is playoff bound and it felt so good for Coach Anthony White and his players.

Buena Park overcame a 13-point deficit in the first half to defeat host Fullerton, 41-27, in a Freeway League game Friday night.

The victory kept the Coyotes (8-1, 4-0) tied for first place ahead of next week's showdown for the title with perennial champion La Habra. The game will be played at La Habra.

“Our coaching staff does a great job of making adjustments,” White said. “It is our conditioning. Everything we've done for the last 11 months … you train 11 months for 10 weeks and hopefully those 10 weeks will get you four more weeks and that hard work is paying off.”

The Coyotes set the stage for their third-quarter comeback late in the second quarter on Ahmad Redeemer's 24-yard touchdown pass to Nik Needham.

After halftime, the Coyotes returned invigorated. They scored on their first three possessions of the third quarter (two touchdown runs from Deven Boston and a 57-yard flip pass from Redeemer to Boston) for a 35-20 lead.

“We're an aggressive team,” White said.

Fullerton (7-2, 2-2) didn't go quietly. Kaene Soto returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 35-27 early in the fourth quarter.

With 9:28 remaining, Boston put on the finishing touches with a 3-yard touchdown run.

Boston scored four touchdowns, all in the second half. He finished with 162 rushing yards. Redeemer passed for 336 yards, bouncing back from two interceptions in the first half.

“They came out and pounded the ball on us and we couldn't get anything going offensively and we put our defense in bad spot,” Fullerton coach Gus Martinez said. “(Buena Park) had some nice drives. They really started to move the ball on us and we couldn't turn the tide. We got close, for a little bit, but then we couldn't stop them.”

Fullerton turns its attention to next week. The Indians will need to beat rival Troy to secure third place and a berth in the CIF-SS playoffs. The top three teams from the Freeway League earn automatic berths. Both teams could be prime candidates for one of two at-large berths for the Southwest Division playoffs.

“It is Troy, our crosstown rival,” Martinez said. “Win and we're in … we'll definitely be able to get them back.”

The Coyotes face the challenge of dethroning the champions.

“La Habra is a great team,” White said. “You'll be a champion when you beat the champion. We have all the respect in the world for La Habra. We're going to work our tails off to go get them.”

Fullerton built up a 20-7 lead, scoring three consecutive times in the second quarter. Benjamin Pichardo booted a pair of field goals (32 and 24 yards) and Deryck Fletcher returned an interception 50 yards.

However, Needham's late touchdown, proved to be the momentum the Coyotes would need to turn the game around.

Contact the writer: dcalhoun@ocregister.com


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