High school sports

Argos overcome flags, Saints

MALACHI BEY (28) busted three big plays as Garden Grove defeated Santa Ana 19-7 Thursday night at Monsoor Stadium (Orange County Tribune photos by Jim Tortolano).

By Jim Tortolano/Orange County Tribune

The red-and-white of Garden Grove defeated the red-and-white of Santa Ana 19-7 on Thursday night, but yellow was the dominant color at Monsoor Stadium.

Yellow as in the penalty flags that officials threw in that non-league contest. I counted 18, but it could have been more because I was running out of fingers and toes.

“We are usually a disciplined team,” said Argonaut coach Ricardo Cepeda, “but we had a lot of undisciplined errors. Some of those penalties could have gone either way, but we’ve got to play cleaner.”

Indeed the Argonauts, now 2-0, were sometimes their own worst enemy with three turnovers, one of them a fumble into the end zone from the one-foot line.

The keys to the eventual success of Grove were a stout defense and the play of Malachi Bey, an all-CIF performer in 2021 and MVP of the Big Four League.

“Malachi played amazing,” said Cepeda. “He was cramping up a bit but he had over 200 yards rushing and some real long runs.”

Indeed. Late in the first quarter, Bey caught a 45-yard pass from Branden Roth to put the ball in the shadow of the Saint goal line. Daniel Martinez carried it in for a 7-0 Argo lead at 2:48.

Early in the third quarter, the Saints were driving but on a key third down play, Mykel Isguerra sacked quarterback Sergio Torres for a loss. The ensuing punt traveled all the way to the Argonaut six.

Not to worry. On the next play, Bey busted off tackle and raced 94 yards for a touchdown and a 13-0 lead. He put the finishing touches on the game with a 63-yard touchdown run at 3:09 of the fourth quarter.

The Saints (now 0-3) got on the board in the final minutes when Joseph Foster found a gap in the Argo secondary and caught a 68-yard TD pass from Torres for the final result.

Throughout the game, penalties had an impact. One fourth-down punt play had to be done a total of five times because of the yellow stuff.

“Eighteen penalties,” said Cepeda. “That kept their drives going. We probably should have had 35 points, at least.”

Reducing penalties is key to another banner year for this red-and-white and to meet expectations on Stanford Avenue.

“Our goal is to win every game,” said Cepeda, adding “and to win our league and make a deep run into the playoffs.’

The Argonauts will be in action next Thursday against the Gahr Gladiators at Artesia High. The Saints will seek their first win next Thursday hosting Buena Park High.

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