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SUBURBAN LEAGUE FOOTBALL
By Loren Kopff
It was a record-breaking night in several ways for Norwalk’s football team in the 48th installment of the “The Big Game”, the annual tilt of the city of Norwalk’s two high schools. The only big things that came out of it were the final score and the performance put in by Norwalk junior wingback Rashaad Penny.
The host Lancers blasted John Glenn 63-0 last Friday night at Excelsior Stadium, the biggest shutout as well as largest margin of victory in this city rivalry. In addition to the final score, Penny rushed for 144 yards on a mere nine carries but scored three touchdowns to break the school’s record for most rushing touchdowns in a season. As a result of a forfeit win over Cerritos from tonight’s scheduled game, Penny will enter the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section playoffs with 24 rushing touchdowns. The previous record of 23 was held by older brother Elijhaa in 2010. Rashaad Penny also has seven receiving touchdowns for a total of 31 this season.
“He’s just an amazing athlete,” said Norwalk head coach Jesse Ceniceros. “It runs in the blood; in the Penny family. We’re just blessed to have an athlete like that and again, it’s a good family and he’s a good kid.”
“My goal was to beat my brother’s record,” Penny said. “It was just all of the hard work in the offseason with these guys. This is a great group of guys. It feels great to have 31 touchdowns.”
Rashaad also surpassed Elijhaa’s all-time career touchdown mark by one. When he scored on a 31-yard reverse from senior wingback Bryan Sullivan as time expired in the first half, he had picked up his 47th career touchdown. In the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Elijhaa Penny scored 46 touchdowns.
Penny got the rout going on the second play of the game with a 41-yard score. After a Glenn punt, senior quarterback Jacquise Hooper scored on a 72-yard keeper up the middle on Norwalk’s fourth play of the game. Penny then added a 39-yard touchdown run with 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
As expected, the Lancers were in complete control in the game, forcing the Eagles to punt on their first four drives of the game, then recovering a fumble and intercepting a pass within the final 7:10 of the half. But Glenn (2-7 overall, 1-4 in the Suburban League) was able to move the ball at times.
After senior fullback Malcom McAllister increased the score to 35-0 with a 13-yard run at the 5:18 mark of the first half, Glenn moved all the way to the Norwalk eight-yard line, highlighted by a 30-yard reception to senior wide receiver Cyrus Villena who hurdled over a Norwalk defender to go from the Glenn 40-yard line to the Norwalk 30. However, on third and goal, senior quarterback Deven Galindo was picked off by Sullivan at the two-yard line.
“It’s our immaturity,” said John Glenn head coach Ray Niemann. “We don’t have guys with experience. We have the four or five athletes who can do a lot of stuff but at the line of scrimmage, we have six years of experience across the board except for [senior lineman Jorge] Zamudio. That’s what hurt us.”
“We knew they were having some trouble there,” Ceniceros said. “They’re young and they have some injuries. You don’t hope [for 63-0] but you still have to execute your game plan, especially for us. We came off of that tough loss against Bellflower and we had the week off. Our kids took that loss pretty hard, so they were pretty motivated.”
Galindo was pacing the Eagles in the first half with 111 yards through the air but the vaunted Lancers running game was churning 298 yards on the ground before halftime and Hooper added another 54 yards on two completions. Hooper would go in from three yards out early in the third quarter before the running clock was employed but the Lancers continued to add to their lead. Junior wingback Matthew Ortega scored on a five yard run early in the fourth quarter and sophomore backup quarterback Ryan McDowell scored from five yards out as well.
In addition to Sullivan’s 28-yard score early in the second quarter, the Lancers had more than four different players score in the same game for the first time this season. Hooper rushed for 123 yards on eight carries followed by Ortega (60 yards, five carries), McAllister (46 yards, seven carries) and Sullivan (40 yards, 18 carries).
“We came out and played smash mouth football,” Penny said. “Again, I have to give it to all the offensive line. They came out and blocked their butts off.”
That offensive line consisted of senior Isheiko Mclaine, juniors Aaron Armendarez and Adam Gonzalez and sophomores Dillon Faamatau and Gabriel Silva.
The Eagles, who have now lost 10 straight games to the Lancers, were led by Galindo’s 165 yards through the air. Villena caught six passes for 119 yards. However, senior running back Steven Reed was limited to 33 yards on only nine carries.
“He was the league’s M.V.P. last year and again, they have some athletes,” Ceniceros said. “But on film, every team they have played, no matter who, they’ve done a good job on certain drives. They scored on Mayfair on the first drive of the game.”
“We had the slants open but we couldn’t get the ball to those slants,” Niemann said. “If we would have opened the game up a little bit better, it would have helped Reed get a little bit more yards.”
Norwalk now owns a 32-16 record against Glenn and will have an extra week to prepare for the Southeast Division playoffs on Nov. 9. Norwalk will enter the postseason with an overall record of 8-2, a vast improvement from last season’s 3-8 mark. It’s also the third time in the past five seasons Norwalk has won at least eight games. In addition, the Lancers have posted seven shutouts in league action since 1998 with five coming against Glenn and have scored at least 60 points against league teams six times since 2008.
“We need to have a good week of practice next week,” Ceniceros said. “I think we need to pick our tempo up. We need to cut back on some of the stupid penalties that are being called because in the playoffs, that will kill you.”
Glenn will wrap up the regular season tonight at Artesia. The Eagles have now been blanked in league action 22 times since 1998 and have yielded at least 63 points four times in the past three seasons.
“Things didn’t go the way they were supposed to,” Niemann said. “People that we were supposed to get to come play with us left us to go to other places. There were a lot of things that went on outside of football with our school that really helped us lose what we needed to be successful.”
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