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Buena Park hits its target, ending La Habra's 47-game streak
BUENA PARK – OliviaGrace Le White was born at 5:30 Sunday morning, on the eve of arguably the most important week of her father’s coaching career.
Her father, Anthony White, was stationed in the hospital with his immediate family through Thursday. His extended family, the Buena Park football program, carried on in his absence.
On Friday, White and his team nabbed perhaps the biggest win in school history.
Buena Park snapped La Habra’s 47-game Freeway League win streak, its 27-13 home win leaving a teary-eyed White speechless after receiving a Gatorade bath.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “This is what ‘Our Family vs. Their Team’ is all about. It took us seven years, but we did it. Credit to the staff, my wife, the kids, just our Buena Park family.
“We worked for this win. We had this game circled on our schedule back in January. This date, we knew what it meant.”
La Habra hadn’t lost a league game since Nov. 3, 2006 – its win streak an Orange County record.
Before Friday, Buena Park, its purported threat the past three years, had fallen like all the others.
“We were in the bottom 10 of Orange County when I got here,” said White, now in his seventh year at Buena Park. “We started this year in the top 10. This win, against that team, in one of the toughest leagues in Orange County, it just shows the hard work and dedication our staff has put in.”
Buena Park quarterback James Rafkin threw for 164 yards and three touchdowns. Cedric Dashiell II had six sacks and Niguy Simms had a crucial fourth-quarter interception.
The Coyotes defense suffocated La Harba’s offense. Take out a few long pass plays, and the Highlanders (4-4, 2-1) managed only minimal gains.
Most importantly, Buena Park’s defense stonewalled La Habra on series immediately following scores.
“Defense is our motto,” White said. “It’s what we live by.”
Buena Park (7-1, 3-0) gained only 42 yards of offense in the first half. With regularity, La Habra’s defensive line made Coyotes ballcarriers bounce runs outside, where linebackers and defensive backs swarmed to Jamiel Henning and others.
Pressure from everywhere had Rafkin dancing in the pocket, his eyes drawn away from routes down the field. When he did have time to throw, passes sailed or were dropped.
Perhaps his most important throw of the evening came in the third quarter, on fourth-and-10 deep in La Habra territory. A 20-yard completion set up a short Henning TD run and opened the floodgates.
Rafkin, a transfer student, completed his next 11 passes, including touchdowns to Victor Bates and AJ Allen. Henning scored on a 24-yard reception late in the fourth quarter.
“Coach inspired us all week,” Dashiell said. “We stepped up for him because he stepped up for us.”
La Habra quarterback Zach Fogel threw for 166 yards.
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