Los Al rolls over Palos Verdes behind relentless defense


LONG BEACH – Richey Yukihiro was a fullback once, which is not something many were likely to know before Friday night. He is the 5-foot-10, 235-pound linchpin of an impregnable Coach Ray Fenton’s defensive line.

But late in the second quarter of the Griffins' second-round matchup with Palos Verdes, a Sea King pass was batted at the line of scrimmage and into the awaiting hands of Yukihiro.

The defensive lineman turned fullback once again.

With each passing yard, the Los Alamitos crowd grew louder, realizing that with every yard line Yukihiro crossed, he was that much closer to scoring his first varsity touchdown.

Sixty yards later, he was in, capping off a play that was a perfect personification of what would become a 35-7 victory for the Griffins.

“We were calling for it,” Yukihiro said. “And Drew (Platt) tipped it, and it fell right in my hands, and, oh, it felt good.”

The defense was feeling a little bit of everything Friday. As if last week’s 19-14 win over Villa Park, in which it forced three turnovers and allowed zero points in six red zone trips, wasn’t enough, the Griffins (9-3) doubled down.

They would finish the night with five interceptions – two of which went for touchdowns – and a fumble recovery.

Michael Magana, he of the 115-yard interception and blocked punt performance a week earlier, added the second defensive touchdown late in the fourth quarter, sealing the Griffins’ first semifinal appearance since 2004 in Fenton’s first year with the team.

“I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had coaching,” Fenton said. “We have a lot of talented guys and we just let them play.”

The Griffins will host La Mirada next Friday.

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