Santa Ana head coach Charlie TeGantvoort, left, introduces his players from left, Jorge Briseno, Steven Cruz and Jonathan Brieseo as team members of seven Orange County high school football teams and their head coaches attended the 41st Annual CIF Southern Section Football Press Conference and Luncheon at The Grand in Long Beach Monday, November 23, 2016. (Photo by Sam Gangwer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Santa Ana proud of its perfect record, hard work


LONG BEACH – It was as recent as 2013 that Santa Ana’s football team failed to win a single game.

If postseason trips were a foreign concept, championship luncheons were simply unimaginable.

But since Coach Charlie TeGantvoort took over the program in 2014, he’s steadily revived one of the county’s historically proudest programs. On Saturday night, Santa Ana will be playing in its first CIF-SS championship game since 1986 when it travels to take on Rancho Christian of Temecula in the Division 13 final.

The Saints last won a CIF title in 1985.

“We’ll see how this week play out, but it’s been special,” TeGantvoort said at Monday’s CIF-SS luncheon. “Just being around these kids, it’s not that they didn’t want to win, they just needed a little guidance. And I feel blessed to be the one that was able to help get them there.”

Top-seeded Santa Ana has turned in a 13-0 record to this point in the season, and in recent weeks, has remained perfect behind its offensive and defensive lines.

In last week’s 66-27 win over Laguna Beach, Saints senior running back Jorge Briseno ran for 204 yards, Allen Pacheco racked up 142 yards and quarterback Damian Macias chipped in with 80. Conversely, Santa Ana stuffed the Breakers rushing attack, holding them to just 3 yards on 16 carries.

“Big shout out to our offensive line and defensive line. All summer they were in the weight room nonstop,” Briseno said. “They’re not the biggest guys, but they’ve got quick feet. They put the work in over the summer and it’s paying off.”

Behind linemen Jesus Viera, Jose Zaragoza, Mark Hernandez, Eddy Lares and Francisco Franco, Briseno has rushed for 1,027 yards and 19 touchdowns in the last five weeks.

Kevin Cea, Pablo Arredondo, Leo Bucio and Steven Cruz have manned the defensive front that will be asked to slow down a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Malosi Napoleon and Jaden Schierberi.

Saturday’s final will be played at Temecula Valley High with kickoff set for 7 p.m.

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