Garden Grove refuses to be run over
GARDEN GROVE - When challenged with limiting a star player’s effect on a football game – especially one of great importance – a defense’s overall success inevitably hinges on 11 different, individual successes.
In advancing to its second CIF-SS Southern Division championship game in three years, Garden Grove (11-2) proved up to the task.
A stout front seven led by interior linemen Maze Masoe and Christian Rodriguez held Laguna Beach halfback Drake Martinez to 79 yards on the ground en route to a 35-21 victory over the Breakers (11-1-1) Friday at Garden Grove High.
“We felt like they (Laguna Beach) hadn’t played a defense like ours all season,” Rodriguez said. “We wanted to be physical up front, stay with our gaps, stick with our man and play as a team and a family.”
Martinez – 11th in the county in rushing yards and tied for first in rushing touchdowns – was limited to four runs of 10-plus yards. The Argonauts’ front seven also stuffed the Breakers’ senior for negative or no yardage on five of his 18 carries.
“Our defense is really strong and good against the run,” Masoe said. “Our defensive line is great, and he (Martinez) didn’t have as many yards as he usually has.”
According to Garden Grove head coach Willy Puga, containing a player of Martinez’s caliber all comes down to preventing the big play.
“We definitely didn’t want to let him pop one,” Puga said. "As long as we put 11 hats on the football and took the right angles, we felt we could minimize the big play.”
Using Masoe and Rodriguez on offense allowed Argonauts halfback C.J. Del Real to run for 175 yards and a pair of scores.
“Those guys don’t come off the field too much,” Puga said of his fullback and guard, respectively. “Those two guys are a big reason we’re able to control the run on offense and contain it on defense.”
Something says the two guys get more enjoyment from the latter.
“It (stopping the run) gives us an incredible pride,” Rodriguez said. “Not every defense can stop a guy like that, and we did.”