La Habra quarterback Eric Barriere, left, consoles San Clemente's quarterback Jack Sears after La Habra's victory.

Fryer: Real life happens after crazy comeback


For Jake Colacion, La Habra’s crazy comeback win over San Clemente in the CIF-SS Southwest Division championship game Friday was a happy-sad moment.

Colacion, an outstanding senior linebacker who was All-Freeway League first team in 2014, tore his ACL during the Highlanders’ league win over Fullerton a few weeks ago.

He was part of the postgame celebration, hobbling around on crutches, hugging and receiving hugs from teammates. He was part of it, but in a way somewhat separated from it.

“I can’t ask for anything better than this,” said Colacion, smiling but with a bit of quiver to his voice. “I love each and every one of these guys. They worked so hard for this.”

When his guys were down by three points with 20 seconds left, Colacion still believed.

“That’s how we play at La Habra,” he said. “We do what we’re coached to do, and that’s what we did.”

Colacion said Barriere’s coolness under pressure is why the quarterback was able to make the game-winning, buzzer-beating touchdown Friday like he did on Sept. 18 in a 37-32 win over Los Alamitos.

“I’ve never met a guy like him before in my life,” Colacion said. “You see him on the street and he’s so nonchalant. You’d never know he’s a great football player.”

More on Football Finals Friday:

It was difficult to tell from different video examined Friday night. But it is possible that Prince Ross was not inbounds on his winning touchdown catch for La Habra. Ross said his knee landed inbounds after he made the catch, and that looked quite plausible, too.

For sure, an official was on the spot and did not delay signaling it was a TD.

A key component to La Habra’s win was the Highlanders’ offensive line that created a second-half push. The unit: Adam Tourville; Franklin Earl; Joshua Rosca; Luis Duarte; Richard Arias; and tight end Rene Palacios.

Having the Southwest Division final at Cerritos College instead of La Habra was the right call. La Habra’s on-campus stadium is a great place for a high school football game – San Clemente’s on-campus stadium is, too – but it could not have handled the more than 7,000 spectators who were at Cerritos College’s Falcon Stadium on Friday.

Field conditions also were superior at Cerritos College. Artificial turf, which is in place at Cerritos College, is not as good as perfect natural grass. No high school stadium has perfect natural grass by the end of October.

La Habra wanted the game played at its home field. The Highlanders just might get another chance for another home game. By winning Friday, La Habra advances to the CIF State Regionals, which is the one-game qualifying tournament for the CIF State Championships; La Habra just might be assigned a home game when Regionals pairings are announced Sunday afternoon.

From the number of complaints from Canyon folks on Twitter, Brea Olinda’s on-campus stadium was insufficient to handle the visiting crowd for the Canyon-Brea game.

CIF-SS football championship games should be played at 7:30 p.m. at the earliest, especially when one of the teams has to travel as far as San Clemente’s supporters did – 47 miles – through Friday night traffic. No parents should miss a second of their kids’ games. Also, maybe people think “ah, that game’s at 7, no way we’d get there on time so let’s not go” whereas they otherwise might say, “we can make that 7:30 game, let’s go.”

The public address announcer at San Clemente-La Habra had difficulty all night with the pronunciation of a San Clemente player’s last name. How hard can it be, to get Vlad Dzhabiyev’s last name right?

Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson has said he is going to coach the Diablos in 2016. But if he changes his mind, what a way to go out: a second CIF-SS championship in a row with his grandson Brock Johnson at quarterback. If Johnson did retire, that would make quite a trio of coaches that called it a career this year, with Los Alamitos’ John Barnes and Valencia’s Mike Marrujo having announced their retirements.

The worst part of Grace Brethren of Simi Valley’s forfeit loss to Saddleback Valley Christian in the CIF-SS East Valley Division title game is that the Grace Brethren players who did everything right to get to the game get punished.

Maybe it was an error by an adult administrator who did not thoroughly check the eligibility status. Perhaps the ineligible athlete and/or his parents lied about the kid’s situation. Either way, one wrong messed up a lot of rights.

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