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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW

Artesia, Gahr football squads lose by identical scores on same field

By Loren Kopff

WHITTIER-Artesia’s football team was hoping to spoil the christening of Dick Torres Memorial Stadium, the brand new facility at Pioneer High, with a week zero victory. But the celebration all night long came from the host Titans who blanked the Pioneers 28-0 behind a stifling defense last Thursday night.

Artesia’s running game was virtually absent from the contest as senior running back Taylor Davis led the team with 22 yards on five carries. The Pioneers punted four times in the first half and junior quarterback Calvin Stitt had a pass picked off by Brennan Tagaloa on the first play of the second quarter. That would eventually lead to a five-yard scoring run from Phillip Hernandez five minutes into the stanza that increased Pioneer’s lead to 14-0.

Artesia (0-1), which had the ball for 8:12 in the first half, didn’t cross midfield until junior wide receiver Rian Hughing caught a 29-yard pass from Stitt two plays following the Hernandez touchdown. It also marked the team’s initial first down.

Pioneer would add a touchdown each in the third and fourth quarter while Artesia’s offense continued to stumble. The visitors ran 11 plays in the third quarter totaling 16 yards and another 11 more in the fourth quarter for minus four yards. The Pioneers also had a pair of fumbles in the fourth quarter, losing one which led to the final Titans touchdown.

Senior linebacker Nick Garcia led the Pioneers with 10 tackles while senior linebacker Sean Davenport added six more. Artesia will visit Magnolia tonight.

Two nights later, Gahr was hoping to avenge last season’s two-point loss to California on Pioneer’s home turf while a new stadium is being built on its own campus. However, Gahr couldn’t generate much on offense, especially from its ground game, and was blanked by the Condors 28-0. Both teams played to a scoreless first half but California opened the second half with a 13-play drive that covered 75 yards and consumed nearly five minutes. The drive ended when Robert Leos went around the right side for four yards.

“Offensively we’re just trying to find ourselves,” said Gahr head coach Greg Marshall. “Defensively, I thought we did a pretty good job tonight. We didn’t handle third and long very well [though].”

Gahr’s best chance to score came on its first drive of the game. The Gladiators (0-1) had driven to California’s 16-yard line. But a couple of penalties and a sack brought the ball back to the 35-yard line. From there junior quarterback Robert Frutos was picked off by Jacob Marron at the 17-yard line who returned the ball 30 yards. Both teams would combine for three more turnovers in the opening quarter and Frutos would be intercepted for the third time in the half at the midway point of the second quarter.

Following the first score of the game, Gahr tried to get things going. But Frutos was incomplete on fourth and 13 and after the Condors went up 14-0, Frutos was again incomplete on fourth and 13 with 1:36 left in the third quarter.

“We went down on fourth down; he threw a deep ball and we barely missed it,” Marshall said. “I think he just needs something positive to happen and he’ll be fine. Right now he’s just trying to find himself; trying to run the team, trying to call the plays. There’s a lot going on with him.”

California put the game away two plays into the fourth quarter on a 14-yard scoring run from Andrew Reyes. The Gladiators would punt three times in the final quarter and picked up 26 yards in the final 12 minutes. Gahr held the ball for less than 10 minutes in the second half, ran 20 plays, picked up two first downs and did not get past its own 47-yard line.

Frutos completed 11 of 27 passes for 81 yards with senior wide receiver De’jah Pickett catching two of those passes for 52 yards. Junior wide receiver hauled in four more passes for 14 yards. Junior outside linebacker Latrell Stearns led the defense with 10 and a half tackles while junior middle linebacker Theodore Ude added four and half tackles. Gahr will face Mayfair High tonight at Ron Yary Stadium on the Bellflower High campus.

“The defense needed a score from the offense to stay motivated,” Marshall said. “Like I told the coaches, if we score a couple of points, the defense plays better. It’s all about motivation. It’s not bad; we had kids playing both ways.”

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

The Norwalk High girls volleyball team was the first to get the action going for the fall 2015 season when it hosted El Rancho this past Monday afternoon. The Lady Lancers came away with a 25-10, 25-13, 25-20 victory. Norwalk will compete in the Segerstrom Tournament on Saturday and host Warren on Tuesday.

This past Wednesday, Valley Christian swept California 25-12, 25-17, 25-16 as senior outside hitter Katelyn Albani had 10 kills and senior setter Chloe Winter had 17 assists and six aces. The Lady Crusaders will visit Paramount on Tuesday and host La Serna on Thursday evening.

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