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605 LEAGUE FOOTBALL : Cerritos takes frustration of league futility out on John Glenn in rare shutout victory

CERRITOS HIGH junior running back Connor DeFrain was a key force in his team’s 56-0 opening-season victory over John Glenn High last Friday night. In the first quarter alone, DeFrain rushed for 92 yards on five carries and scored twice.

 

 

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

April 1, 2021

The long and overdue wait for Cerritos High first-year head football coach Brad Carter was worth it, even if it was 13 unpredictable and unprecedented months. Carter was hired last February and had roughly a month to meet with his new team in person before conducting team activities online.

It is said that patience is a virtue and getting back on the gridiron paid off for Carter and Dons Nation as Cerritos blasted host John Glenn High 56-0 last Friday night in the season opener for both teams. The win snapped a 19-game league losing streak that dated back to Oct. 29, 2015 when the Dons defeated Glenn 22-16 at Excelsior Stadium. The 56-0 decision was the largest margin of victory for Cerritos in any league game since Nov. 7, 2003 when the Dons blanked Glenn 44-0.

“Yes, it was awesome,” Carter said. “The kids played great; we’re all very excited just how they showed up. It was a long wait but worth it.”

Cerritos had previously hit the 50-point mark in league competition twice, but not since Nov. 14, 2003 in a 57-24 win at Artesia High. The other occurrence was a 51-6 decision against Glenn on Oct. 19, 2001. In addition, Cerritos had scored at least 55 points in four non-league games since 1999.

The Dons scored on all six of their first half possessions, including four in the first quarter on 16 plays. Junior running back Connor DeFrain rushed on all four plays of the opening possession for 45 yards, capped by a two-yard run less than two minutes into the game. Following a three and out, it took Cerritos three plays to make it 14-0 as junior quarterback David Sagun scored from nine yards out.

The sixth play of the game from Glenn turned into an interception by senior defensive back Nick De Giuseppe and four plays later, DeFrain scampered 47 yards for another touchdown. That would be the last time he touched the ball and led everyone with 92 yards on five carries.

The performance by DeFrain and the rest of the offense impressed Glenn first-year head coach David Cruz, who said Cerritos was bigger and stronger up front and that Glenn was inexperienced in its offensive line. He added that the blitzing of Cerritos also created havoc for Glenn’s offense.

“The offensive line played fantastic,” Carter said. “They really opened up some huge holes. Connor is a big, strong, fast running back. He’s kind of a quiet kid but he is a strong dude and I think he’ll be a name to remember for the next couple of years.”

While the Dons were piling up 168 yards in the first quarter alone, the Eagles were having problems just getting started, running 14 plays and gaining negative 14 yards. It didn’t get much better in the second quarter, where the running clock began, as the Eagles punted on the first play of the stanza, then ran four plays going for three yards.

“They didn’t get down on themselves; they didn’t get totally discouraged,” Cruz said. “You could see a little tension in their face at times. But for the most part, they kept the positive attitude, and that’s something we can build on.

“We’ve only been practicing for three and a half weeks,” he continued. “And we haven’t put in a lot of plays, both offensively and defensively. The boys surprised me and stepped up and I was extremely proud of that. We’re just lacking fundamentals because we didn’t have time to work on those as much as we would like.”

Cerritos needed only seven plays in two second quarter possessions to score two more touchdowns. First, senior running back Andrew Ramos snuck in from a yard out. Then after a bad snap on fourth down cave Cerritos the ball at the Glenn 29-yard line, junior Mateo Martinez ended the half with a 19-yard run and a 42-0 halftime lead. While the Dons were adding 74 yards to its offensive total, the Eagles crossed midfield once, aided by a personal foul penalty, but got only to the Cerritos 44-yard line. Glenn had three false start penalties, were called offsides twice and had a delay of game infraction, all in the first half.

“As far as positives, most of it is the attitudes,” Cruz said. “The guys are hungry to come back, they’re hungry to get better, they’re hungry to learn. But I wish we could get in the weight room. It doesn’t help that they only lifted weights two days in the last year and a half and we only practiced the last month.”

“We weren’t overconfident,” Carter said. “I think we knew the first game of the year there were going to be some mistakes, and there was on both sides. But I just thought the kids played great. They played hard and that’s all we could ask for.”

It wouldn’t get much better for the Eagles in the second half, even when Cerritos was putting in its reserves. Glenn gained a yard on its opening drive, but its defense forced the Dons to punt for the first time. However, on Glenn’s second possession of the half, Cerritos senior Moises Vargas returned a punt 30 yards for a touchdown. Another turnover would lead to the last score of the game, an 18-yard run from junior Erick Louie III.

“They played really fast,” Carter said. “From offense to defense to special teams, they were just really fast. And obviously, inside the run box, [the] O-line [and] D-line looked really tough, which was exciting for us. But the speed really stood out. So that’s exciting; we have a lot of speed on the team.”

Cerritos used seven ball carriers to gain 239 yards on 20 carries and Sagun completed five of eight passes for 68 yards. Meanwhile, Glenn was able to get one yard on 14 rushes and senior quarterback Matthew Huxtable completed three passes for 18 yards.

“When you’re in football long enough, you’re in a lot of wins and a lot of losses,” Carter said. “I’ve been on both sides. Obviously, Glenn has a bright future, and they have some really good young athletes over there. Covid has affected a lot of schools differently. So, I think they’re going to finish the season strong. I know it’s nice to be on this side of it, but we also have to be respectful because…don’t get too cocky because the other side’s not too far away. We have to stay humble.”

However, the score wasn’t the only issue for the Eagles. Cruz said that Huxtable bruised his knee and might not be able to play for Glenn’s second game of the season, which was scheduled for Apr. 1 at Pioneer High. He added that junior center Gabriel Pasillas is going to be day to day, sophomore Manuel Sigala might be in concussion protocol and sophomore right cornerback Emanual Enriquez got his hand stepped on and might have fractured a bone or two.

“I’m extremely concerned because we lost maybe three or four players for [the Pioneer] game and we suited up maybe 26 for today and we lose four of our quality players,” Cruz said. “I have concerns about being able to participate next week.

“If we lose quality players, now I’m having to put freshmen in there and it could be like this again,” Cruz later predicted. “And if I lose four more next week…I mean, it’s not fair to those kids to put them in. But Pioneer and Artesia, I have heard that they have been struggling like we have and unable to practice. But I’m still really concerned because we’re so small and we’re so young.”

Cerritos was scheduled to host Artesia on Apr. 1 and Pioneer on Apr. 9. After that, it’s yet to be determined if the Dons will pick up a non-league game for the final week of the season, which is Apr. 15-17.

“It’s going to be a short week, but I think these kids are ready for the challenge,” Carter said. “605 League competition has not been good to Cerritos High School in the past, and they’re very excited to change the narrative on that.”