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WEEK NINE FOOTBALL: Sanchez, Udengwu pace John Glenn over Cerritos as Eagles move closer to rare playoff trip

 

 

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter

 

The path to the playoffs for a pair of programs that have been desperate to stop their respective postseason droughts could be summed up in one quarter of a high-scoring game. Cerritos High and host John Glenn High, both of whom have not been to the playoffs in 17 and 16 years respectively combined for over 1,100 yards of offense and 15 touchdowns, seven coming in the fourth quarter.

When their high-scoring affair had concluded last Friday night at Excelsior Stadium, it was Glenn that put itself on the verge of a playoff spot after knocking off the Dons 67-41. The Eagles, who are ranked ninth in the CIF-Southern Section Division 12 poll, improved to 5-4 overall and 1-1 in the 605 League. The Eagles are assured of their second straight non-losing regular season.

“A lot of things haven’t been John Glenn’s way,” said Glenn head coach Vince Lobendahn. “I honestly look back at the Norwalk game [on Sept. 28] and think maybe we still had a hangover from that. There was so much excitement about it. There was a [difference in the stands] between one game and the next, and my kids notice it too. We’re giving them a program to watch and I just feel that they want some of that support from them.”

Glenn was up 24-19 at the half as both teams had traded the lead four times. The Dons were looking to regain the lead in the third quarter after recovering an onside kick near midfield and driving to the one-yard line. But a false start on second and goal, an incomplete pass and a bad snap that resulted in a 19-yard loss made it fourth and goal from the 25. Another incomplete pass gave Glenn possession and seven plays later, junior running back Edwin Udengwu scored from four yards out. The key play of that drive was a 54-yard pass play from senior quarterback David Sanchez to senior wide receiver Tim Stevenson.

Cerritos (3-6, 0-2) still had a chance to stay in the game, moving from its own 15-yard line to the Glenn five-yard line. But on third down, junior quarterback Stacy King was picked off in the end zone by junior defensive back Ulices Ayala. On the very next play, Sanchez threw to Stevenson, who zig-zagged his way through the Cerritos defense as if he was on Madden NFL 19. Eighty yards later, he was in the end zone and Glenn was up 37-19 with 2:06 left in the stanza.

“He was wide open on the seam, so I threw it to him,” Sanchez said. “I was on the sideline waiting for him to get tackled because it looked like he was going to get tackled. I was waiting with the coach to get the next play.”

“In a game where it’s tit for tat; where we’re answering back, you have to gain a possession,” Lobendahn said. “Previous to the [interception], there was a play in the end zone where [Ayala] allowed a touchdown. So, we were on him a little bit on the sideline about, ‘hey, are you going to come out and do it’? And he did, and he performed better.”

The 26-point swing was what the Eagles needed to distance themselves from Cerritos, which would score on three straight fourth quarter possessions.

“Well, on top of that, defensive stops where we had them dead in rights in the backfield and we just don’t complete the play,” said Cerritos head coach Barry Thomas on those two third quarter possessions. “Three or four of them and it’s a whole different ballgame. Those were ‘get them off the field’ stoppers. Those were huge defensively. Having stops and not completing them was our breaking point.”

Following a fumble on the game’s first possession, Udengwu scored from two yards out and added a two-point conversion just over three minutes into the game. Both teams would then trade turnovers and with 2:20 left in the opening quarter, King tossed a 19-yard scoring pass to junior wide receiver David Huh. On the ensuing kickoff, Huh recovered a fumble and five plays later, King scored from 24 yards out on the last play of the quarter. The Eagles regained the lead two minutes into the second quarter on a 19-yard run from Udengwu, plus a two-point conversion pass from Sanchez to senior Ivan Ramirez.

But on the ensuing possession, Cerritos grabbed a 19-16 lead when King threw a 12-yard pass to junior wide receiver Noah Garcia. Nearly three minutes later, Glenn took the lead for good when Sanchez went in from a yard out, plus a Ramirez two-point conversion run. That touchdown drive consisted of 13 plays and in the second quarter alone, the Eagles had 18 plays while the Dons had 19 plays.

Both teams would score on a combined seven straight drives in the fourth quarter with Sanchez scoring from two and six yards, Udengwu from 59 yards and junior wide receiver Bobby Sanchez from 29 yards. Cerritos got their scores from King (14 and five yards) and a King to Garcia connection for 15 yards.

King was 15 of 34 for 180 yards and picked up another 231 yards on 30 carries while senior running back Tye Anderson added 129 yards on 26 carries.

“With the adversity going on with our team, Stacy has taken it upon himself to just put the team on his back and do whatever it takes,” Thomas said. “We’ve taken him off defense. He wants to be on defense, but he’s just too valuable for us to have him out there and risk injury. Anytime he’s been dinged up, it’s been because he’s been on defense.”

The Dons will end the season tonight against Artesia High, which moved into the seventh spot in the Division 12 poll. The Pioneers are sitting at 6-3 overall and 2-0 in the league. Last season, they crushed Cerritos 87-32 and have won seven straight games over the Dons, one of those being a forfeit contest.

“Artesia is in our district, so a lot of those kids know each other,” Thomas said. “It will be a pride thing; just battling. They hung 83 [points] on us last year. That’s got to be in the back of their mind. Just ball out with your buddies for the last time possibly.”

For Glenn, Sanchez completed 10 of 12 passes for 211 yards including nine in a row at one stretch while gaining another 95 yards on a dozen carries. Udengwu had 183 yards on 19 rushes while Stevenson caught seven passes for 166 yards.

“With David, our run game has been such a thing,” Lobendahn said. “It’s kind of rounded out the passing game that maybe he feels it. He’s looking to make sure we show that he has his skill too.”

“It was really my receivers and the [offensive] line doing all the work,” Sanchez said. “It was a great way to bounce back from the loss last week.”

Glenn will wrap up the regular season at Pioneer High, which is currently tied for second place with the Eagles. The Titans are sitting at 6-3 overall and while Glenn is ranked in the top 10, the winner of this game will certainly lock down a playoff berth.

“As I looked at their schedule and seen where they were going and stuff, it’s really shown that’s a well-coached team,” Lobendahn said. “They run really good plays [and] their defense is solid. So, going into the Pioneer is going to be difficult to even get into a competitive mode. They’re not going to turn over the ball. They’re really going to give you a good game, both offensively and defensively. We have to put it on them early and stay on it and see where that leads us.”

The game against Cerritos was also the last regular season game the Eagles will play at Excelsior Stadium. When the 2019 season begins, they will move into their new on-campus facility that will have, among other things, a field turf surface. The Eagles went 3-3 this season at home.

“My brother went 0-10 here as a head coach and it means so much to me to lead with two back to back, at least right now, with five-win seasons,” Lobendahn said. “The memories from [former Glenn head coaches] Ray Niemann, Joey Parra, coach [Ken] Mason, coach [Anthony] Wilson, coach [Gilbert] Jimenez…all the coaches I’ve watch come through here. They’ve all meant something to me to end what they kind of put down here. There’s been a Suburban League title here with those groups and on this field. They’ve done so numerous things for us. I’m thankful that we got to end it with a ‘W’, head to our new field next year and see what we can start anew with a new group.”

 

 

 

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