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La Habra handed another difficult lesson
The Highlanders fall to 0-3 this season against Trinity League teams with a 35-17 loss to St. John Bosco.
BELLFLOWER - La Habra is not a team that ducks anybody.
The Highlanders wanted to challenge themselves, so they scheduled three Trinity League teams from the CIF-SS Pac-5 Division on their nonleague schedule this season.
La Habra went 0-3 against those Trinity League teams after losing to St. John Bosco of Bellflower, 35-17, on Friday night at St. John Bosco High. But Highlanders coach Frank Mazzotta believes his team will be better in the long run for having challenged Orange Lutheran, Servite and St.ï€® John Bosco.
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"You want to play the big teams, play hard and play good," Mazzotta said. "You can't make mistakes and you gotta play well. That's what you learn when you play good teams. Any little mistake turns into something bad. It's not like you get many second chances.
"You don't have to be perfect, but you have to better than what we are right now."
Former Trabuco Hills coach Jason Negro is in his first season coaching at St.ï€®John Bosco, his alma mater, and he has the Braves off to a 4-1 start.
"We had high expectations," Negro said. "We wanted to play at a high level and we think we've done that so far, even the Lakewood game we played really well. I'm happy where we're at right now, but we have a long ways to go because the Trinity League is not a joke."
Negro's Trabuco Hills teams lost to La Habra, which fell to 2-3, in the Southwest Division finals and semifinals the past two seasons.
"It's just an honor to be able to knock those guys off because of what they've been able to accomplish," Negro said. "We wanted a measuring stick to see where our program was at, and there's no better team than La Habra. They're going to be fine and they're going to make a run. I guarantee to you they'll be playing in the finals of their division."
La Habra trailed by a touchdown at halftime, but marched down the field to get a 24-yard field goal from Sean Wale to cut the deficit to 21-17 on the opening drive of the second half.
That was as close as the Highlanders got to the Braves.
Raymond Medina, who finished 10 of 19 for 207 yards and three touchdowns with one interception, connected with Rodney Morgan for touchdowns of 66 and 43 yards in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
St. John Bosco running back Martin Brown tore up the Highlanders' defense, finishing with 298 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. He had eight carries of 15 yards or more.
St. John Bosco had a ï€¸21-14 lead at halftime, but it could have been worse for the Highlanders. The Braves were driving in for a score when Brown fumbled at La Habra's 1-yard line with 1:24 left in the half.
La Habra had the lead early on. Aaron Porter picked off St. John Bosco quarterback Raymond Medina and La Habra put together a 10-play, 78-yard scorfing drive. Brett Bartolone, who took many of the snaps at quarterback out of the wildcat formation for La Habra in the first half, capped the drive with a 2-yard keeper. The Highlanders failed on the extra-point attempt.
The Highlanders forced the Braves to punt on the ensuing possession, but muffed the punt. St. John Bosco recovered at La Habra's 29. Three plays later, Brown scored on an 18-yard burst to give the Braves a 7-6 lead with 5:30 left in the opening quarter.
The Highlanders put together a long drive on their next possession, but got stopped on fourth-and-1 at St. John Bosco's 33.
The Braves used a fake punt to keep their next drive going and Brown eventually scored on a 3-yard run to give them a 14-6 lead with 9:14 left in the half.
La Habra responded with a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive. La Habra quarterback Cody Clements, who was 17 of 27 for 216 yards with no interceptions, connected with Alex Ybarra for a 15-yard touchdown off a play-action pass to cap the drive. Bartolone found Mark Yackey in the end zone for the two-point conversion and it was tied, 14-14, with 4:56 left in the half.
The tie lasted 35 seconds as St. John Bosco put together a quick -play, 59-yard scoring drive. Medina hooked up with Bryce treggs on a 28-yard scoring strike.
Both La Habra and St.ï€®John Bosco have byes next week before beginning league play.