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Fryer: La Habra's winning TD was chaotic and correct
La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta saw the official signal “touchdown.”
But he had a question.
“I was asking everybody, ‘Who caught it?” Mazzotta said.
It was difficult to tell with bodies leaping and flying around for the football that La Habra quarterback Eric Barriere threw into the end zone Friday as time expired in the Highlanders’ 39-36 win over San Clemente in the wild CIF-SS Southwest Division championship game.
Eric Garcia jumped for the ball, but it was about a foot above his reach. A San Clemente defensive back behind Garcia also could not get a hand on the ball. But a diving Prince Ross did.
Ross’ momentum carried him several feet out of bounds – so far out of bounds, there was some who wondered if Ross made the catch in bounds. San Clemente players in the end zone were waving their arms in the “incomplete” motion.
An official, just a couple feet from Ross, with quickness and certainty signaled touchdown. Photos that began to circulate early Saturday morning showed that Ross was inbounds and the official made the right call.
Obscured by the dramatic ending and the great play of several La Habra players was a solid performance by San Clemente quarterback Jack Sears. He rushed for 144 yards on 17 carries and threw two touchdown passes.
San Clemente runnig back Vlaz Dzhabiyev rushed for 122 yards on 14 carries.
MAKING THEM COUNT
Of Mission Viejo quarterback Brock Johnson’s 21 pass completions over the West Valley Division semifinal and finals, nine were for touchdowns.
Brea Olinda senior linebacker Zach Arnold was certain the Wildcats would play better against Canyon in the Southern Division championship game than they did in a 26-0 loss to the Comanches in a North Hills League game a few weeks ago.
The Wildcats did not win, taking a 31-21 loss to Canyon. But they were not shut out and they kept pace with Canyon until the Comanches pulled away in the second half.
Centennial of Corona beat St. John Bosco, 62-52, in the Pac-5 championship game at Angel Stadium on Saturday night. Centennial beat Bosco in last year’s Pac-5 championship game.
Centennial’s JJ Taylor rushed for 269 yards and scored five touchdowns Saturday. Huskies quarterback Anthony Calalano three for three touchdowns. Bosco’s Sean McGrew ran for 196 yards and three touchdowns.
Centennial beat private schools in all four rounds of the Pac-5 playoffs.
The top two seeds in several divisions met in their division’s championship games, including the Pac-5, West Valley and Southwest divisions.
The top two seeded teams in the East Valley would have played in the final if No. 1 seed Grace Brethren of Simi Valley had not forfeited to Saddleback Valley Christian. It was announced Friday that Grace Brethren discovered that it had used an ineligible player in the playoffs and regular season.
The Trinity League often is labeled the best football league in California. Trinity League teams did well in the Pac-5 playoffs, as all three Trinity teams in the bracket - Mater Dei, Orange Lutheran and St. John Bosco - won at least one playoff game and the three combined to go 6-3 in the playoffs.
The Freeway League has six teams. San Clemente played four of them in the Southwest playoffs.
San Clemente, Sea View League champion, beat Freeway’s Sunny Hills in the first round, Sonora in the second round and Buena Park in the semifinals before losing to La Habra in the championship game.
BEST PLAYOFFS LEAGUE
The North Hills League qualifies for that title.
All four North Hills teams went to the playoffs, even El Dorado which was 0-10 on the field and got a forfeit win to take a 1-9 record into the Southern Division for which the Golden Hawks qualified as an at-large team.
El Dorado lost in the first round to top-seeded Garden Grove. The North Hills’ Brea Olinda, Canyon and El Modena all advanced to the semifinals, and Canyon beat Brea in the Southern Division championship game.
Four county teams went into the playoffs undefeated: Mission Viejo, Saddleback Valley Christian, Valencia and Villa Park.
Villa Park beat Valencia in the Southwest Division second round. Villa Park’s undefeated run ended in the semifinals against La Habra.
West Valley champion Mission Viejo and East Valley champion Saddleback Valley Christian won their division championships and take 14-0 records into this week’s regionals.
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