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WEEK SIX FOOTBALL: JOHN GLENN FINALLY TURNS THE TABLES ON CITY RIVAL, KEEPS STRUGGLING NORWALK WINLESS

JOHN GLENN HIGH junior wide receiver Bobby Sanchez gets a block from a teammate on one of his two carries against Norwalk High last Friday night. Sanchez rushed for 20 yards in his team’s 48-7 victory.  PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.

 

BY LOREN KOPFF
@LORENKOPFF ON TWITTER

Emotions were running high in the 2018 installment of the Mayor’s Cup, which signifies the yearly tilt between the John Glenn High and Norwalk High football teams. The latter had come in winning 15 straight games, most of them uncontested. But this one would be completely different.

Backed by strong performances from senior quarterback David Sanchez, junior running back Edwin Udengwu and a stingy defense that allowed 114 yards and recovered two fumbles, the Eagles gave their coaches, student body and alumni something to remember for a lifetime. Glenn blasted the winless Lancers 48-7 last Friday night at Excelsior Stadium. It’s the largest win by the Eagles in this long-standing rivalry and the most points Glenn has scored against Norwalk since Oct. 16, 2009 when it fell to the Lancers 42-35. Only five times had Glenn scored at least 30 points against Norwalk prior to last Friday. Norwalk still leads the overall series 37-17 with the victor of the 1982 game unavailable.

“It’s unbelievable,” Sanchez said. “It was the game of the year for us. This game really meant a lot for us.”

“I downplayed nothing,” said Glenn head coach Vince Lobendahn. “I played towards the whole week and I was going to prepare for them the same way. I made sure I made it like it was a better team even though the film showed me they didn’t have anything consistent. I made sure I built it up for a big game so my kids wouldn’t work to a lower game and play a lower level.”

Glenn made an early statement that this was going to be the year the losing streak ended when Sanchez threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Udengwu almost four minutes into the contest. Norwalk responded and was driving until Glenn senior lineman Caesar Lopez returned a fumble 65 yards for a score with 4:36 left in the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, Udengwu made it 21-0 with a 34-yard run and by now, it was clear to most in attendance that Norwalk was in trouble.

“Coming into this game, we knew it was going to be a hard game,” Udengwu said. “We knew it was going to be a very emotional game. But we just stuck through it. Throughout the week, we said no matter what happens, we have to stay focused. Last year we came within six points. This time, we wanted to get the win for sure. I mean, 48-7, I’m pretty sure we did our job.”

Five plays after the touchdown, Glenn senior lineman Chris Gonzalez recovered a fumble and almost two and a half minutes later, Udengwu scored from two yards out. But the Eagles were not done as Sanchez found senior wide receiver Tim Stevenson wide open for a 51-yard score and the rout was on at 34-0.

But when you’ve been bullied around for the past 15 years, it’s had to keep your emotions in check when you have such a big lead at the break. That’s what Lobendahn was facing in the locker room.

“It was difficult because we took on some comments on the way in and my kids were getting sidetracked,” Lobendahn said. “I said, ‘hey guys, all this stuff means nothing. We’re at halftime, in the middle of a game and any guy can come out and change this game’. I had to refocus them on our points.”

After Norwalk went three and out to begin the second half, Udengwu capped off his night with a 58-yard touchdown run following a four-yard gain. The touchdown would be the last time he touched the ball as he ended the game with 159 yards on 15 carries and three touchdowns, plus the touchdown pass he caught earlier in the game.

“I have to give it to the lineman on the three rushing touchdowns,” Udengwu said. “They opened holes for me which is incredible. And, throughout the game, the coach made excellent play calls; he gave me the ball and from there, I just had to trust my eyes and trust my teammates around me.”

“Most of his success came in the weight room as he played safety the year before,” Lobendahn said. “The weight room showed us that if he can take the pounding, he would be able to give us what we needed behind the front that we have. As the plays started in the spring, we looked and we said, ’behind this line, this guy might break some stuff’. That just started into summer and it led to where we started [the season] with him and it’s just really opened up.”

The score remained 41-0 until an interception from Norwalk junior safety Joel Alacorn in the final seconds of the stanza paved the way for a one-yard sneak from sophomore quarterback Christopher DeLeon early in the fourth quarter. Sanchez would tack on the final score with 36.2 seconds remaining on a 19-yard run. He would finish with 80 yards on eight carries.

“It means that I accomplished something in life,” Sanchez of the win. “It took four years to do this and we all worked hard for it.

“It was really more just spirit this year; that everyone had confidence,” Sanchez later said. “The coaches kept reminding us what happened last year and that just fueled our bodies.”

“It was really important to us, not just me, but to the seniors, too,” Udengwu said. “It’s what we’ve been talking about since January. We wanted to get this win.”

After the first quarter, the Lancers had one drive of over five plays. That would come in the third quarter when an 11-play drive ended in a punt. They had four drives in the second quarter on a combined 16 plays and one drive of three plays in the fourth quarter. Sophomore running back Warren Stevens-Tayou led Norwalk with 91 yards on 21 carries.

“I looked in the backfield and thought if that guy gets a few touches back to back, he could be a yard gainer,” Lobendahn said. “I’ve seen him bust a few. He carries enough weight below that it’s not going to be an arm tackle that brings him down. It’s going to be a complete wrap.”

Both teams will have tonight off before jumping into action of their respective leagues. Norwalk, which has scored 56 points this season, will visit Suburban League favorite Mayfair High (5-2) on Oct. 12 while Glenn, which improved to 4-3 and was bumped up to ninth in the CIF-Southern Section Division 12 polls, plays its first 605 League contest against Artesia High, also on that date.

“My eyes are on Artesia,” Lobendahn said. “I’m prepared to break down film and watch their game against Western and see what I have to do to get going in [the 605 League].”

“We have to celebrate this win first, but it’s on to next week and on to Artesia,” Udengwu said. “[It’s] time to rest up and then time to go to Artesia for our start to the 605 League.”

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