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Artesia ends season with rout over John Glenn, looks forward to next season

By Loren Kopff

There was nothing to play for but pride when Artesia’s football team hosted John Glenn last Friday night in the season finale for both teams. However, ending the 2012 season would go far for the victor in the offseason and hopefully carry on into next season.

That’s what Artesia head coach Joe Veach is counting on as his Pioneers blasted Glenn 47-8 to end, what he called a successful season, at 4-6 overall and 3-3 in the Suburban League. To Veach, it was successful because the Pioneers went 1-9 last season. The four victories are the most since 2008 when Artesia went 7-4 and tied for second place in the league.

“We knew going into the season, just by looking at the schedule, that we were going to have a tough stretch in there with the big boys in league,” Veach said. “But we kept coming out and we kept fighting. We squeezed out a win against Bellflower and we could have gotten one against Mayfair. I expected more than four wins but not too many people outside of our program expected more than four.”

Artesia tied with Mayfair for fourth place and had it not been for a missed field goal with less than a minute to play in a 28-27 loss to Mayfair on Sept. 21, most likely there would have been a coin flip between Artesia, Bellflower and Norwalk to see who claims second and third place and an automatic spot in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs.

The Pioneers jumped on the Eagles early and often, scoring on all six of their first half possessions and building a 40-0 halftime lead. Senior quarterback Francisco Galan tossed a short one-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Cristian Rodriguez on the fourth play of the game. Then on Artesia’s next play following a fumble recovery by junior defensive back Anthony Roldan, sophomore Vincent Brown tore through the Glenn defense for a 46-yard run and five minutes into the game, it was 14-0.

Another fumble gave the Pioneers the ball at the Glenn 40-yard line and two plays later, Galan scored on a 38-yard keeper up the middle. In the second quarter, Galan would score on runs of 11 and 20 yards respectively while Rodriguez added a 70-yard run down the left sideline. Rodriguez finished the game with 124 yards on eight carries and scored three times. His last touchdown, a three-yard run, came nearly halfway through the third quarter and began what would be a running clock the rest of the way. Galan picked up 115 yards on six carries and was also five of 11 passing for 63 yards.

“We did a good job tonight breaking some big plays.” Veach said. “At the beginning of the season, we had a lot of opportunities to make big plays and we didn’t take advantage of them. Towards the end of the season, we started to take those opportunities and tonight was a great example of that.”
The Eagles (2-8, 1-5), who ended the season with six straight on the field losses and scored 31 points in the last four games, avoided the shutout when senior running back Steven Reed went in from five yards out late in the fourth quarter. Reed, the league’s offensive most valuable player last season, was held to 24 yards on seven carries. In last season’s meeting, Reed rushed for 252 yards on 27 yards and helped his team post a 26-20 victory at Excelsior Stadium. In his last two high school games, Reed was held to 57 yards on 16 touches.

“He’s a heck of a player,” Veach said. “Last year we punted to him down by four with seven minutes left in the game and we didn’t get the ball back. All they did was hand the ball to him every single time. Definitely, we wanted to slow him down [tonight] and we did a pretty good job.”

The Eagles, who had first half possessions end on two fumbles, two punts, downs and the half, were limited to 153 yards of total offense. Glenn went 2-8 for the third time in the last six seasons and will lose Reed, senior Cyrus Villena, its top wide receiver, senior Deven Galindo, its starting quarterback and senior Jorge Zamudio, its top lineman to graduation.

Meanwhile, the future looks bright for the Pioneers, despite Galan, a three-year varsity member, graduating. Artesia recognized a dozen seniors before the Glenn game during senior night festivities and will return the bulk of its offense next season.

“It’s good to have those guys coming back and the future looks good if we can find a quarterback,” Veach said. “That’s number one. Losing Francisco…I can’t tell you how nice it’s been every single year to know exactly who I’m going to put out there for the last two years.

“Three years ago, we had a lot of work to do,” Veach added. “We were going in the wrong direction for a lot of different reasons. We went through some tough times but we had a great group of kids the last couple of years who have worked really hard and grew so much from where we had them in the beginning.”