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Norwalk’s defense does a number on Cerritos, ends five-game slide


By Loren Kopff

The kickoff temperature for Cerritos High’s home football game against Norwalk High was a sweltering 96 degrees last Friday night at Hanford Rants Stadium. But even hotter was the performance the Norwalk defense displayed.

The Lancers held the Dons to 35 yards rushing and did not allow the hosts to snap the ball in Norwalk territory until the first Cerritos play in the second half. When it was all said and done, the Lancers had rolled the Dons 49-7 to snap a five-game losing streak and in the process, pick up their first Suburban League win in three attempts.

“We’re back in the hunt and that’s all we could ask for,” said Norwalk first-year head coach Otis Harrison. “Everybody [in the league] is good. It’s amazing and every win is just a struggle and a fight. We’re happy to get out of here relatively healthy.”

With the scoreboard not functional, time didn’t matter on this night because Norwalk senior running back Chris Walker scored on a 25-yard run on his team’s first play from scrimmage. The score would remain 7-0 until senior running back Joseph Armas scored from six yards out early in the second quarter. Later in the stanza and following an interception from sophomore safety Billy Joseph Moore, Walker hauled in a 50-yard scoring pass from senior quarterback Ausencio Navarro.

Even though the Lancers (2-5 overall, 1-2 in league), who have now won 11 straight over Cerritos (10 on the field) by an average score of 43-7, were leading 21-0 at the half, they had only gained 66 yards on 13 carries before halftime. It wasn’t quite what Harrison was hoping for, considering his team was desperate for a win.

“We had a fumble right there that we should have gotten back,” Harrison said. “It was our ball and they ended up getting the ball. I have to believe that we would have scored there in some kind of way. That doesn’t help us because it’s not like we’re 5-1. We need everything that we work for.”

Cerritos (0-5, 0-2) would put together its longest drive of the game after the Lancers were held on downs to begin the second half. Beginning at the Norwalk 41-yard line, and aided by a facemask penalty, the Dons drove to the 17-yard line. However, the black and gold were pushed back to the 21-yard line where sophomore quarterback Colby Nielsen was sacked for a nine-yard loss on fourth down.

On the very next play, Walker broke several potential tackles on his way to a 70-yard touchdown run. Later in the third quarter, senior running back Kirk Brown would add touchdown runs of nine and 52 yards, the latter again breaking would-be tackles.

“We’ve actually gained about five yards to a man during the football season,” Harrison said. “We still lift very, very hard and some of the things that they lift is upwards and around 800 pounds flipping tires. All of those things come into play and that’s what we want to see.”

The final Norwalk touchdown came early in the fourth quarter when sophomore fullback Daniel Faamatau rumbled in from 10 yards out. Cerritos would avoid the shutout moments later when senior running back Kameron Skiba picked up 20 yards on the ground, the only time a Cerritos running back gained more than eight yards on any carry. It was also the first time the Dons had crossed midfield on their own. Two plays later, Nielsen launched a 38-yard touchdown pass to senior Manolo Cevallos.

Walker led everyone with 120 yards on seven carries while Brown added 90 yards on nine touches. Senior lineman Jesse Lotts had five tackles while junior linebackers Andre Armendarez and Austin Perez and sophomore cornerback Jonathan Tovar all had three tackles. Norwalk will have tonight off before resuming action on Nov. 23 against Artesia.

“It was intense,” Harrison said. “We’re working on how to complete games. I tip my hat off to everybody who has beaten us. They work hard for it and I have to give the players credit.”

Skiba picked up 45 yards on 11 carries for Cerritos while Cevallos added 23 yards on 10 gains. However, four other ball carries combines for losses totaling 30 yards on 17 carries. Senior linebacker Isaiah Harris was the leader of the Dons defense with six tackles. The Dons will visit Artesia tonight

“Cerritos is a well-coached team and they’re not without effort,” Harrison said. “I treat everyone just like they’re ranked number one in the state and I try to respect them.”