By Jim Tortolano
Under a full moon, the Garden Grove High football team unleashed the full arsenal of its roster to defeat previously unbeaten La Quinta 47-26 in the Garden Grove League opener for both teams Thursday night at Bolsa Grande Stadium.
After falling behind early 14-13, the Argonauts (2-3 overall) scored 24 unanswered points to take a 30-14 halftime lead, and answer the question of whether the Argos would be strong enough this year to win a sixth straight GGL crown.
“This is pretty much what I expected,” said Grove coach Ricardo Cepeda. “I know they’re 5-0, but we had a couple of weeks off and we’re pretty well-rested. It was a tough game, the first half, a lot of penalties, too many mistakes on our part.” Speaking of La Quinta, he said “They’re a tough team, but we had their number tonight.”
Indeed, the Aztecs – considered by some to be the heir apparent to the Grove League crown – started off well, driving 62 yards on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead on a 3-yard run by Jason Ly. But Grove retaliated with a 65-yard scoring run by Dominick Sanchez to move to within 7-6 when the PAT failed.
The Argos took the lead on another TD run by Sanchez, who raced 81 yards for a 13-7 Grove lead at 3:20 of the first period. But La Quinta then went to the air, as Michael Nadeau heaved a long pass to Jayelen Walker for a 79-yard touchdown play to put the blue-and-gold up 14-13.
It would be the home team’s last lead of the night. Grove regained the lead on a 46-yard TD run by Mike Carrillo to go ahead 20-14, establishing an advantage the red-and-white would not relinquish. Early in the second period, Elian Arreola kicked a 22-yard field goal to push the lead to 23-14.
Garden Grove is essentially a rushing team, but the coaches uncorked a passing attack late in the second quarter. Jacob Zazueta capped a long Argo drive with a 20-yard scoring pass to Brandon Coleman at 1:18 before the half to make the score 30-14 at the intermission.
That was essentially the game. The Argos reached the end zone twice in the third quarter to extend their lead to 44-14 and the Aztecs tallied twice to make the score more respectable. The last Grove tally came on a 37-yard field goal by Arreola. Sanchez finished with three touchdowns and 214 yards rushing, mostly in the first half. Jonathan Gallegos took over the second half go-to runner, rolling up 100 yards.
So can the Argonauts now begin their league victory lap in their final season before they are relocated to the Golden West League in 2018?
“Every game is a key game,” insisted Cepeda. “Rancho [Alamitos] is good, Santiago is good, Los Amigos always gives us a good game. We don’t take anybody lightly.”
And anyone tempted to take the Argonauts lightly after a 1-3 start now knows they will have their hands full trying to keep Grove from winning another league title.
Also on Thursday night:
- Edison 63, Huntington Beach 0: The defense scored four touchdowns and quarterback Griffin O’Connor accounted for three more as the Griffins (4-2) opened Sunset League play with a resounding win at Cap Sheue Field. Three pass interceptions were returned for touchdowns against the Oilers (1-5), as was a fumble. O’Connor passed for 140 yards in the win.
- Pacifica 56, Kennedy 7: Ben Jefferson passed for 191 yards and rushed for 185 more as the Mariners opened Empire League play with a big win and improved their record to 6-0.
- Orange 61, Loara 13: The Panthers (6-0) remained undefeated with this big win over Loara (2-4) at Fred Kelly Stadium in the Golden West League opener for both teams.
Categories: High school sports