By Thomas Gutierrez
photos: Steve Marcotte/OsideNews
San Clemente CA – After the deluge of fires that struck both Oceanside and the Los Angeles area, both teams were ready to battle for the Southern California Regional Division 4-AA Championship game at the neutral site of San Clemente High School.
In a game where victory was never secure until the clock stopped at 0:00, the Crenshaw Cougars (11-3) defeated the San Diego Division-I Champions (8-6) 13-10 in a defensive struggle that produced only 213 total yards of offense for El Camino and 248 for Crenshaw as they continue their State Bowl journey against Placer High School next Friday.
With the offensive scoring button pushed to off with a 0-0 score in the first quarter, it was the defensive unit that scored first after Wildcat Quarterback DJ Ralph was hit from behind with the resulting fumble being scooped up and ran in for a 9 yard TD by an alert Rayshawn Williams giving the Cougars a 7-0 lead in the first minute of the second quarter.
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The next series, the Wildcats moved the ball methodically down field, and with a couple of penalties against the Cougars providing a boost for the Cats, they only managed to score a field goal, by place kicker Kevin Perez, that closed the gap at 7-3 with 7:48 left in second quarter.
On the Wildcat’s next offensive possession, after a sure TD pass from Cougar quarterback Isaiah Johnson to wide receiver James Day was dropped, and the ensuing punt, the next 3:03 minutes of the second quarter put a light on recent Cal Bear commit Chris Brown. With his combination of power and speed, he provided glimpses of offensive fire power as he exploded for a major 25 yard gain and converted a quick screen pass from quarterback Jaden Casey, which resulted in a much needed 16 yard gain. After eating up close to 80 yards while the clock wore down to 0:06 before the half, Casey rolled out from the three yard line and connected with Rocky Katoanga for a touchdown, putting the Wildcats up 10-7 in this tightly wound defensive battle.
As the third quarter continued to be a defensive affair, it was not until 4:46 remaining when Crenshaw quarterback Johnson hit wide receiver Rayshawn Williams with a 20 yard lob pass for a touchdown. And after Edjar Mejia’s extra point conversion was blocked by the Wildcats special teams, the scored stood at 13-10.
If the fourth quarter was a pond, it would be dry; scoring once again was a non factor. As the clock ticked away, the Wildcats had one more chance to keep the game alive. At the 1:13 mark while facing a fourth and four at midfield, Jaden Casey took the snap and darted up the middle only to be contained by a barrage of Cougars and ending a tremendous El Camino Wildcats season.
“I felt defensively we played really strong. Offensively we showed streaks of greatness, but we couldn’t sustain it..,” said head coach Rayshawn Williams who took over for Jerry Ralph at the beginning of the season. “The guys played hard especially with what everything that happen these last days, especially with the fires.” added the Coach, “We are CIF San Diego Champions, nobody can take that way from these kids.”