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WEEK FOUR FOOTBALL – Herrera, Norwalk reclaim Mayor’s Cup from John Glenn in typical emphatic way

Norwalk High first-year head coach Ruben Guerrero holds the Mayor’s Cup trophy following his team’s 51-7 victory over city rival John Glenn High last Friday Night. It was the first time since 2017 that the Lancers had won the Mayor’s Cup and since the series began in 1964, the Lancers have defeated the Eagles 38 times with the 1982 outcome unknown. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.



September 22, 2021

By Loren Kopff• @LorenKopff on Twitter


Halloween came a month and a half early for Norwalk High’s football team, even if it was only for one play. Unfortunately for John Glenn High, it wasn’t the treat it was hoping for in the 57th edition of the annual Mayor’s Cup game, pitting the two rivals from the city of Norwalk.

Norwalk first-year head coach Ruben Guerrero dipped into his bag of tricks and fooled everyone by passing on the first play of the game, something you wouldn’t expect out of an offense solely built around the double-wing. It was just the beginning of an explosive offensive performance in the first half that propelled the Lancers to a 51-7 victory. Glenn had won the previous two meetings after being on the short end for 15 consecutive seasons.

“It feels good; it feels good all around,” Guerrero said. “I’m happy for the kids, I’m happy for the school, I’m happy we were able to take it back home.”

“This feeling is unreal,” said Norwalk junior running back David Herrera. “I remember when I was a freshman and they beat our varsity team, I was feeling angry, and I just wanted to avenge our guys. It’s our time now and we just did what we do, and we came out with a ‘W’.”

The 51 points scored are the most by any Norwalk team in the series since 2015 when the Lancers blanked the Eagles 56-0 and the sixth time since 2010 that Norwalk has scored at least 50 points in the series. On the other side, the seven points Glenn scored marked the third straight meeting between the two that the loser could only muster a touchdown. It’s also the 10th time since 2000 and the 23rd time since the series began in 1964 that Glenn has been held to a touchdown or less.

Guerrero and Herrera said that the play that was run to begin the game is in Norwalk’s playbook, and they practice it every week, although it’s not a big part of the offense. Still, junior quarterback Caden Barnhill was able to launch a deep ball to Herrera, who escaped the touches of senior defensive back Iona Young around the Norwalk 40-yard line and raced down the far sideline for the score.

“Coach had told us he had a surprise for me and Caden on Monday,” Herrera said. “To be honest, I didn’t think we were going to run it. He barely let us know [after the opening kickoff] when Caden ran out with the play, and we just executed it.”

“Well, this week we were just trying to come up with something new and that was just it,” Guerrero said. “We said we always open on the ground, so let’s open in the air and see what happens. [Assistant] coach [Eddie] Moreno and I held onto the [play]. We ran practice as normal; we didn’t want to the kids to have any inkling about it. So, we sprung it on them and we’re just happy it all worked out.”

Glenn’s first play from scrimmage was a fumble, which was recovered by junior linebacker Daniel Castillo and on the next play, senior running back Jonathan Goodloe scored on a 12-yard run. Just like that, two plays, 93 yards, 23 seconds and it was 14-0. The Lancers would add their third score of the night with 2:15 left in the opening quarter when Herrera went in from four yards out. That was the end of just a three-play drive that used up 22 yards and 1:26.

“That surprised us too, but still, we had a guy there,” said Glenn head coach David Cruz of the first play of the game. “[Young] just didn’t make a play, and that’s our best kid. You’re expecting him to make a play and it just didn’t happen.”

Down 21-0, Glenn didn’t make things easier for its offense as numerous times, the snap from center would go above the heads or past senior quarterback Nataniel Jacobo or senior punter Jimmy Torres. In all, the Eagles were held to 95 yards on 41 plays with 15 of them going for negative yardage. Meanwhile, the Lancers racked up 312 yards in the first half alone on just 16 plays and did all that in just 6:38.

“I have to give it to our defense for getting us the ball,” Guerrero said. “I have to give it to our offensive line for opening up holes for Goodloe and David Herrera to run through. Up front, the kids on both sides just played so tough that they make things happen. They make it happen for us. So, to make the most of it, I owe it all to them for doing it.”

Following a punt to begin the second quarter, Herrera got loose for a 62-yard touchdown on Norwalk’s initial play of the stanza, and when Torres missed a 44-yard field goal, Goodloe scored on an 80-yard run to make it 37-0 with 4:46 remaining in the half. The final score before halftime came with 1:39 left and was by Herrera again, this time a 14-yard run. Norwalk ran four plays in the second quarter, picked up 162 yards on four plays and needed 75 seconds to do that.

“We just take what the defense gives is and we take a little bit more,” Herrera said. “We create and my O-line just blocked for us. We have a great O-line, so the place just opened up and we just run through the hole, make a couple of moves and we just break it free. That’s it. “

“That offense does do damage against us,” Cruz said. “There’s a reason why this is the only team left on our schedule that runs this offense. They do a great job of what they do, but we won’t ever see it in our league. I really don’t like playing that offense. We didn’t spend a lot of time practicing it. But they put a whooping on us.”

A few times, Glenn’s offense showed it could move the ball. On its first possession of the second quarter, it held the ball for 6:39 and picked up 60 yards, getting to the Norwalk 19-yard line. But three straight plays resulting in negative yardage led to the missed field goal. The lone bright spot came late in the third quarter when Young scored on a 61-yard run to cap off the game’s scoring. Young managed to eclipse the century mark, gaining 108 yards on 20 carries.

“Every time we seemed to get a drive, we shoot ourselves in the foot,” Cruz said. “We had something like six or seven, maybe eight fumbles tonight and the exchange in the shotgun [formation] killed us. We thought we would have them at a disadvantage when we ran shotgun and put three wide receivers to a single side. And we just could not capitalize on it.”

“It was the size of their line,” Guerrero said of his concerns with Glenn. “I thought they had some guys in the trenches we were going to have a fight [with]. That’s what I came into the game with that mindset.”

The entire second half was played under running clock conditions and the final Norwalk touchdown was scored on its third and only play of the third quarter when junior fullback Anthony Martinez scored from 11 yards out. Goodloe led everyone with 128 yards on six carries while Herrera added 109 yards on seven carries. As a team, the Lancers racked up 369 yards. Defensively, Castillo had three tackles and the fumble recovery while senior lineman Adrian Castillo and sophomore lineman Jonathan Anguiano each added three tackles.

After winning four games from 2018-2020, the Lancers are sitting at 4-1 this season and have held three opponents to seven points or less. Despite the score of this game and most of the games in the rivalry, which now stands at 38-17 in favor of the purple and gold with the 1965 and 1982 results unknown, the crowds on both sides of Glenn’s stadium were nearly packed and noisy.

“This is an important game; an important game for the city, it’s an important game for the schools and it’s an important game for the students,” Guerrero said. “This game needs to happen no matter what the records [are]; no matter what the standings [are] because it brings out a good crowd. It’s a game that means a lot to everyone who lives in the city and goes to the two schools.”

The Eagles will visit Hawthorne High tonight, hoping to end a two-game losing streak in which they have been outscored 92-13. In 2018, Glenn edged Hawthorne 51-50 on the road but lost the next season at home, 24-16. Hawthorne enters tonight’s scheduled game winless in three games after a 48-20 setback to El Segundo High. In its first two games, Hawthorne was outscored 56-6. This is Glenn’s second road game of the season and first since Aug. 27.

“They’re going to have athletes too,” Cruz said. “But we need to be more disciplined. We have to eliminate the fumbles and we have to execute a little better. A big problem that we have is so many new kids came out on the first day of school and they’re barely learning the offense. They go out there and they mix the plays up. So, it’s difficult for us to sustain a drive when you get 12 people in there because they didn’t know they’re not in there on trips or this person doesn’t know that they’re in on tight formation.”

Norwalk will have a tough task as it travels to El Rancho High, undefeated in all five games played in 2021. The Dons have outscored their foes 210-16 with four shutouts. Quarterback Elijah Mitchell has already thrown for 1,005 yards and 14 touchdowns while running back Anthony Bonilla leads the ground game with 529 yards on 57 carries and nine touchdowns. As a team, El Rancho has put up 2,162 all-purpose yards and on defense, seven players have combined to sack opposing quarterbacks 11 times while six players have a combined nine interceptions, led by Jacob Medina who has two sacks and two picks.

“Some of their strengths…they look like they’re a well-coached team,” Guerrero said of El Rancho. “They throw the ball around pretty well, and I think that’s something that we’re going to have to try and contend with. That’s something that we’re going to have to work on really hard and we’re going to have to be very mindful of. They [also] look very stout on defense.”