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Cerritos wins first game, extends John Glenn’s Suburban League losing skid

By Loren Kopff

Cerritos football head coach Darin Owens was wondering when the Dons last won a homecoming game. He doesn’t have to look too far back as Cerritos defeated Artesia 35-13 on Oct. 22, 2010.

But now, the third-year head coach can finally say he has tasted a homecoming victory at Cerritos as the Dons had no problem with John Glenn, 29-9, last Friday night at Hanford Rants Stadium. It was the first win in seven games this season for the Dons and second straight victory over the Eagles.

“Tonight, the difference was we played four good quarters,” Owens said. “We’ve been starting off slow, then in the third and fourth quarters, we’ve been kind of coming back. We told these guys every team can leave a mark…and that’s something you can take with you for the rest of your lives.”

The loss sent Glenn to 2-6 overall and 0-4 in the Suburban League and extended the Eagles’ on the field league losing streak to 15 games. Glenn has not won a league game on the field since knocking off Artesia 26-20 on Nov. 4, 2011. The Eagles did earn a forfeit victory against Cerritos on Sept. 28, 2012.

The Dons got on the board first when senior running back Kory Boyd went around the left side for a 20-yard run. Junior running back Manolo Cevallos added a two-point conversion run and Cerritos was up 8-0. The score remained the same until Glenn senior quarterback Aaron Conrad snuck in from a yard out on the third play of the second quarter.

But the hosts responded by taking the next 5:03 off the clock and ending an 11-play drive with junior backup quarterback Anthony Beltran scoring from a yard out, then adding the subsequent two-point conversion. Beltran was replacing senior Ki’Jon Washington, who was injured two weeks ago against Artesia.

It was the only drive of the stanza for Cerritos, which had the ball for less than 11 minutes of the first half but picked up 142 yards on the ground.

“Anthony has done excellent, plus he broadens our horizons on the passing game,” Owens said. “That’s been huge. He’s been very effective with that. At this point in time, he’s the future. Ki’Jon has done an outstanding job. Sometimes injuries give other kids opportunities. And he has accepted the role. He’s stepped in and he’s been flawless.”

For Glenn, it had three possessions in the first half and rushed for 120 yards in the first 24 minutes. Following the Cerritos touchdown, the Eagles ran off the final 5:42 seconds and got to within seven points when junior Angel Gomez booted a 27-yard field goal on the last play of the half.

“We were building on that too,” said Glenn first-year head coach Vince Lobendahn of responding at the end of the half. “As a team, we’ve seen us take on Bellflower, La Mirada and Mayfair and we tried to develop some of the positives we put out of each of those games, to come in here and execute.”

But after a stunning fireworks show after the homecoming princess was announced, it was a different story in the second half, where the Cerritos defense shut down Glenn’s rushing attack and held the Eagles to 22 yards on 15 plays. Meanwhile, the Dons got a two-yard touchdown run from sophomore Kaliq Hatcher almost four minutes into the third quarter and a 19-yard scoring pass from Beltran to Boyd on the third play of the fourth quarter.

In fact, Cerritos would hold the ball for the final 8:11 of the game and finished with 241 yards on the ground, led by Boyd (132 yards on 19 carries) and Beltran, Cevallos and junior Isaiah Harris, all of whom combined for 105 yards on 23 touches.

“We were trying to correct some of our blocking errors and it just led to putting another guy in, younger, and it just piled [up],” Lobendahn said of the second half. “Backs were injured, going both ways. Cerritos did a freaking great job. They adjusted to what we were going to do. They stayed consistent with their run game and anything we countered with, they had an answer. I really liked their game plan.”

“They’ve played well,” Owens said. “They’ve been in games just like us. We’re very similar teams trying to battle it off. It’s always going to be a good, physical game. So, I was happy with that.”

Conrad led Glenn with 83 yards on 16 carries while senior running back Dominic Enriquez added 34 yards on 10 carries. Glenn ran 39 plays as opposed to 48 from Cerritos.

“[Aaron] lost his starting center, which contributed to a lot of our fumbles and a lot of our inconsistency,” Lobendahn said. “In the end, he had a hard time working with the [second stringers]. He was able to fight through it in a time when we really needed him to be a leader. He still carried us on his shoulders for as much as he could and I’m going to stay in his corner.”

While Cerritos visits co-league leading La Mirada tonight at Goodman Stadium, Glenn hosted city rival and the other co-league leader, Norwalk, on Oct. 30 at the same facility. The annual tussle for the Mayor’s Trophy has gone Norwalk’s way the past 11 meetings with the Lancers winning by a combined average of nearly 31 points with four shutouts.

Following the game and after speaking to his team, Lobendahn walked towards the bleachers of the visitor’s side at Rants Stadium and spoke to the sparse Glenn crowd about his intentions for the rest of this season as well as the future.

“I don’t want them to get disheartened,” Lobendahn said. “I’ve seen us losing, I’ve seen the big scores the last three games and I hear some of the comments. I just want them to know that I’m there with their kids. I promise to be consistent. I’m there every day. I’ll be there and I’m not going to leave them.”