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WEEK FOUR FOOTBALL – Herrera, Mueller brothers dominate John Glenn in another romp as Norwalk keeps Mayor’s Cup

 

Norwalk High senior linebacker Nelson Vasquez returns a second-quarter interception 36 yards to set up a nine-yard touchdown run from senior running back Michael Mueller in last Friday’s 59-6 rout of city rival John Glenn High in the latest installment of the Mayor’s Cup. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.

 

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

September 21, 2022~The first quarter of last Friday night’s 56th annual Mayor’s Cup game was uncharacteristic of host Norwalk High. Heavily favored to crush their city rivals, the Lancers fumbled on their opening possession, needed one play to score the first touchdown of the contest, then ran one play to end the stanza.

But you can’t keep Norwalk’s high-octane offense grounded for a long time and the Lancers turned it around in the second quarter, running 10 plays before halftime and scoring three times on their way to a 59-6 dismantling of John Glenn High. Norwalk now leads the series 39-17, has scored over 50 points against Glenn eight times, all since 2000, and has limited the city’s east school to a touchdown or less in three straight meetings and 12 times since 2004.

“I think the kids might have let the game get a little bit bigger than it was and we tried to keep a good frame of mind,” said Norwalk head coach Ruben Guerrero. “We had to really work at settling down, and once they did, they got into a groove.”

“You can tell I’ve been gone for a couple of weeks,” said Glenn head coach David Cruz. “We just didn’t look crisp offensively. We had quite a few mishaps…fumbles, interceptions and we just never got clicking. One thing or another, it seemed like we were shooting ourselves in the foot. We had chances, but we just didn’t capitalize on them. I don’t know if it was because Norwalk played us well. The offense is going to score a lot of points, but defensively, I thought we had some opportunities to score points and we didn’t.”

Although Glenn dominated in the possession department throughout the contest, it had trouble gaining much yardage and the Eagles crossed midfield twice in the first half but not until the midway part of the second quarter.

The first score of the game, a 15-yard run from senior running back David Herrera, came after a loss of 17 yards on what would have been Glenn’s second punt. On Glenn’s next possession, senior outside linebacker Nelson Vasquez recovered a fumble at the 30-yard line and five plays later, senior quarterback Caden Barnhill went in from two yards out. With just over two minutes into the second quarter, the Lancers were back to their usual selves with a 16-0 lead.

“I’m not actually happy with what happened [in the beginning],” said senior Michael Mueller. “I think we should have come in here and swing the momentum early and just blow them out. It was a lot of rivalry and it got to our heads, and it caused a lot of flax. We changed it though.”

Another three and out paved the way for another one play possession for the Lancers where Herrera scored on a 50-yard run and with 4:10 left in the half, Vasquez picked off sophomore quarterback Raymond Acosta at the nine-yard line where 12 seconds later, Mueller added a touchdown as the Lancers were beginning to run away with a 32-0 lead.

The first break for Glenn (2-3) came on the ensuing possession when Norwalk was called for a running into the punter infraction at the 30-yard line. Then a pass interference call moved the ball to the Norwalk 40-yard line. But a pair of negative rushes and an incomplete pass led to a Herrera interception at the Norwalk 15-yard line where the offense ran out the half.

In the half, Glenn ran 31 plays for 20 yards with senior starting quarterback Emmanuel Enriquez going seven of eight for 37 yards and had the ball for nearly 17 minutes. But of those 31 plays, 10 went for negative yardage and it didn’t help that nine starters were injured, including Enriquez. Meanwhile, the Lancers racked up 177 yards on 17 plays, all but one of those plays coming on the ground.

“When we got into the locker room, our coaches straightened us up,” said Mueller. “They gave us the truth and told us what we needed to do.”

“It’s all because of injuries to our key personnel,” said Cruz. “We lose our quarterback; we didn’t have him. Any of our starting four running backs…we had to put in our fifth running back. And then two of our wide receivers got hurt. We’re just injury-plagued and it really hurt us today.”

It would be more of the same in the second half when Mueller scored on a 55-yard run on the first play. Three plays later, junior linebacker Jesse Lopez returned Acosta’s third interception 45 yards for a touchdown and on Glenn’s second play on the ensuing possession, sophomore cornerback Ezra Mueller went 51 yards on a pick-six to make it 52-0 with 4:13 left in the stanza.

“I put a challenge to them this week,” said Guerrero. “We started out with defense, and they’ve been working really hard at getting better throughout the year and I think it showed tonight. I think their hard work paid off and that was something that we had wanted to gauge; to see where we were at defensively.”

Ezra Mueller would complete Norwalk’s scoring with a 27-yard run at the 8:15 mark while Glenn avoided being shutout for the 12th time in the rivalry when Acosta tossed a 20-yard pass to senior wide receiver Tony Jefferson with 1:28 left in the game.

Norwalk’s top two running backs this season, Herrera and Michael Mueller, combined for 13 carries and 213 yards on the ground while the rest of the team picked up 49 yards on six rushes.

“They get better, and a score here, a score there…as soon as we get the ball, they’re off and running,” said Guerrero of his star backs. “They are getting better and better every game. They’ve also worked very, very hard to be where they’re at. Kudos to them; they deserve all the achievements that they’re reaching.”

Meanwhile, Glenn finished the game with 71 yards in offense with Acosta throwing for 69 yards and Jefferson catching eight passes for 108 yards. There were only eight rushes that went for positive yardage with half coming from senior running back Manuel Sigala, who gained 13 yards.

 

 

Norwalk High senior cornerback David Herrera (#31) and senior linebacker Nelson Vasquez team up to tackle John Glenn High junior wide receiver Raymond Breslin in last Friday night’s annual Mayor’s Cup game, easily won by Norwalk 59-6. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.

After Glenn had won two straight meetings, Norwalk has answered that by a combined score of 110-13. The Eagles have also had a stretch of three straight wins (1987-1989) and four straight wins (1999-2002) in the history of the Mayor’s Cup while Norwalk has won at least five straight three times, leaving many to wonder if it’s really a rivalry.

“We’re two schools in the same city with past history and look at the crowd, look at the turnout,” said Guerrero. “I really like having this game. I think it’s big for the city, I think it’s big for the schools. The crowds come out and the kids have fun. The alumni come out; we had alumni here from years back come out. It’s a draw of all kinds of different things that makes this a special night.

Michael Mueller added that it’s important to win the Mayor’s Cup and he predicts the program and is going to hold it for a long time, too.

“I’ve always downplayed the rivalry thing just because I think other teams should be our rivals,” said Cruz. “I really think our rivals should come from league. But it prepares our kids for the big game, and this is a big game for most schools. We get a lot of fans out; the student body gets involved. So, it’s great for the city and it’s great for both schools. But the last few years, we’ve been on the short end of the stick, and it gets a little frustrating.”

Norwalk, which improved to 5-0 and has scored no fewer than 48 points in any game, will host El Rancho High tonight. The Dons are 3-2 after a 35-22 loss to Mayfair High last Friday and have lost two of the last three games. El Rancho is a well-balanced team as Ryan Vasquez has passed for 985 yards and 13 touchdowns while he and three others have gained over 100 yards on the ground as part of the team’s 834 yards. Since 2-16, El Rancho and Norwalk have split their four meetings.

Glenn is just hoping for no more significant injuries in the second half of the season. With the four 605 League teams down this season with a combined three on the field victories in 19 games, they all know that whoever can win two out of their last three games are heading to the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. The Eagles were to have hosted Hawthorne High tonight for their homecoming game, but the school cancelled all homecoming activities this week after Hawthorne double booked the date. Instead, the Cougars have their bye tonight and Glenn will not have a game tonight.

“I won’t be satisfied until we get the majority of our personnel back,” said Cruz. “I don’t feel comfortable until we get those guys back. It’s tough to throw the ball when we have our fourth and fifth wide receivers in there. We can’t run the ball, and then when we had our backup quarterback in there…but they’re all getting experience and they’re all getting better. It’s all for the last few games in league that matter and hopefully we have all our guys by then, and I think we will. We’re a really good team when we have all our guys.”

 

 

 

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