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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – Valley Christian football wins back and forth affair with Portola, advances to semifinals


By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

Three of the top four seeded teams in the CIF-Southern Section Division 12 football playoffs have advanced to Friday’s semifinals, including Valley Christian High. The Defenders went on the road to Portola High and came away with a 35-34 overtime victory that saw the lead change hands four times.

V.C. improved to 5-7 and will host Hueneme High on Friday. The Vikings were 26-14 winners over Santa Ana Valley last Friday night. The Defenders jumped out to a 13-0 lead over Portola on touchdown passes of 35 yards from junior quarterback Joe DeYoung to freshman wide receiver Jaden Hernandez and 79 yards to senior wide receiver Nick Bozanic. The Bulldogs would score the next two touchdowns to take a 14-13 lead in the third quarter before sophomore running back JoJo Apisala scored on a nine-yard run.

Portola would have the momentum following a pair of scores to make it 28-20 early in the fourth quarter before Apisala made it 28-26 on a one-yard run with less than two minutes remaining. He would tack on the two-point conversion, before the defense held the Bulldogs to send the game into overtime. There, Portola couldn’t gain much on its first possession while V.C. was unsuccessful on a 38-yard field goal.

In the second overtime, the Defenders got the ball first and regained the lead after Apisala scored from five yards out. The Bulldogs answered but decided to go for the win with a two-point attempt, which was unsuccessful. Apisala rushed 19 times for 111 yards while DeYoung completed 10 passes for 193 yards but was picked off three times.

V.C. is now in the semifinals for the first time since 2016 when that team won the Division 9 championship and finished with a 12-3 record. This is the sixth time in the past 25 seasons, V.C. has advanced to the semifinals and other than 2016, the program has advanced to the finals four other times in school history-1964, 1986, 1985 and 2002.

The Defenders have won three of their last four games, scoring at least 35 points each time while the Vikings enter the game at 6-6, winners of three in a row and five of their last six games. In four of the six wins, Hueneme has scored at least 35 points. However, even with a .500 record, it has allowed more points than it has scored as the Vikings have given up at least 28 points in all six losses. Quarterback Josiah Sanchez has passed for over 2,000 yards.

A win by the Defenders will put them on the road against either top-seeded Lancaster High or fourth-seeded Arroyo High in the finals on Nov. 25 or 26.

Prediction: V.C. 31, Hueneme 28.

Last week: 1-1

Season to date: 45-19-1


At last Saturday’s CIF-SS preliminaries, the V.C. boys cross country team finished in a tie for second place in its Division 5 heat and advanced to the finals on Saturday at Mt. San Antonio College. The Defenders, who tied The Webb Schools with 98 points, which was far behind the 60 picked up by Viewpoint High, are scheduled to race at 8:45 a.m.

Senior Matthew Kubler finished in second place with a time of 16.01 and was almost six seconds off heat winner Joshua Thomas of Chadwick High. Sophomore Jack Gisler was the next V.C. runner to cross the finish line as he came in 13th place with a time of 17:27. Right after him was freshman Wyatt Baker (14th, 17:30), junior Caleb O’Conner (38th, 18:35) and junior Matthew Vreeke (41st, 18:46). There were 86 runners in the heat.

In Division 3, the Norwalk High girls finished in third place in their heat with 131 points and qualified for the finals. The Lancers, who will race at 9:45 on Saturday, were led by senior Gabriela Felix, who finished in seventh place with a time of 19:21. Nine places later came junior Vanessa Felix, who had a time of 20:07. The next three Norwalk runners were seniors Evelyn Mejia (30th, 20:55) and Tatiana Valdovinos (48th, 22:29) and sophomore Isabella Reyes (66th, 23:55). There were 93 runners in the heat. The top seven teams in each division will advance to the CIF State Championships, which will be held on Nov. 26 at Woodward Park in Fresno. In addition, the top five individual runners among the top 20 finishers in their respective divisions will also advance to the finals.