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Inspired Katella improves to 8-0
ANAHEIM – Katella continued its march toward school history on Thursday, but the Knights’ story again ran deeper than the final score.
The defending Orange League champion is winning and overcoming injuries.
Running back Francisco Pineda rushed for 191 yards and three touchdowns as the Knights improved to 8-0 with a 42-14 victory against Anaheim in a clash of first-place teams in the Orange League at Glover Stadium.
Katella (8-0, 3-0), tied for third in the Southern Division, can match the school record for most victories in the season next week against Santa Ana Valley (2-4-1, 2-0) but that wasn’t the Knights’ rallying call after handling Anaheim (4-4, 2-1).
Their thoughts quickly centered on middle linebacker and running back Sebastian Damasco, who left the game in the third quarter on a stretcher with a neck injury, Katella coach Fred DiPalma said.
Damasco was injured making a tackle but had full movement afterward, DiPalma said. The senior raised his arm to the Knights’ faithful before being hoisted into the ambulance.
“This game was really for him,” Katella two-way lineman Ector Loayza said of Damasco, who scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in the first half.
“Ever since preseason, he was always saying, ‘We got to get ready for Anaheim.’ … It broke all our hearts to see him go down like that but we knew … we had to climb the mountain still.”
Katella earlier this season lost standout running back Randy Furbush to a season-ending broken fibula but still produced 392 yards on the ground against Anaheim. And earlier this week, Katella receiver Damian Durango suffered a foot injury.
“In the end, it always comes down to the team,” Loayza said. "I like our kids. They come to work every day. Our slogan is ... 'Best job I ever had'. We talk about going to work. We got to work."
Katella scored on all five of its possessions in the first half and limited Anaheim to one first down to open a 35-0 lead.
"The kids performed very well in the first half," DiPalma said. "
Anaheim quarterback Brandon Lopez tossed second-half touchdowns to Ricardo Godinez and Richard Sanchez.
Pineda led a strong ground attack with 135 yards and two touchdowns in the opening half but the speedy junior had plenty of help. Damasco mixed in the power running with 31 yards.
Quarterback Joseph Vasquez highlighted the second quarter with a 39-yard touchdown run, featuring a slick spin out of a tackle at the 15, as the Knights opened a 28-0 lead with 4:16 left.
Vasquez also opened the scoring by lofting an 18-yard touchdown pass to 6-foot-4 junior James Fatasia, who out-leaped two defenders to cap an 11-play, 80-yard drive about four minutes into the first quarter.
Vasquez rushed for 70 yards and passed for 101.
Katella's defense recorded five sacks, included two by Leo Ruiz. Anaheim's defense forced two fumbles in the second, the first leading to a 4-yard TD reception by Godinez shortly after long injury break.
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