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Buena Park thinking big after knocking off San Juan Hills
BUENA PARK – Anthony White, like many, might not know the last year, prior to this one, Buena Park won a league championship outright.
But he knows the football program’s never been a CIF titlist.
On Friday, White began his latest playoff run the way he began his previous two, with a home win.
The Coyotes defeated visiting San Juan Hills, 20-7, to advance to the Division 3 quarterfinals.
Buena Park (10-1) will play Edison, which beat Newbury Park on Friday, at Edison High next week. The teams played last season, a 38-0 Chargers win.
“‘Why not us? Why not now?’” White said. “That’s our playoff motto. Our staff continues to do a great job. ‘If it doesn’t work the first time, try doing what your coach told you.’
“We monitor effort, attitude. ‘You’re either all in or in the way.’ I know I keep saying these mottos, but I say these things 100 times a day.”
In the first half, Buena Park dynamo Elijah Gates spurred two scoring drives with long plays; his first, a run, his second, a catch.
The Coyotes’ AJ Allen, on a fourth-down play, and Jeremiah Hawkins capped those respective drives with touchdown receptions. Devon Cooley scored on a 28-yard catch in the third quarter.
Buena Park quarterback James Rafkin completed passes to seven receivers, finishing with 192 passing yards.
“All my guys can make plays, so I try to feed them the ball,” Rafkin said. “Any one of those guys can turn a 5-yard pass into a 50-yard touchdown.”
San Juan Hills (7-4) scored in the second quarter on a 4-yard run by quarterback Doug Jackson. But aside from that 11-play drive, the Stallions mustered little in terms of meaningful yardage. Led by Cedric Dashiell II, Shane Olden Jr. and Ryan Nelson, Buena Park’s defense recorded seven sacks and several other tackles for loss. Ronnie Cannon and Jojo Hawkins had second-half interceptions.
San Juan Hills’ leading rusher, Brady Bjorkman, had only 13 rushing yards.
“Everyone looks to make tackles,” Nelson said. “Everyone’s going back and forth to see who’s going to make the better play. ‘Do not share,’ that’s our defensive motto. We do not want to share tackles. We do not want to share sacks.”
Buena Park’s past two seasons have ended in the CIF-SS semifinals.
“If somebody had said 10 years ago Buena Park would be playing Edison in the second round of the playoffs, people would’ve laughed,” White said. “But we’ve built this program, and we’re looking to get another playoff win.”
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