By CHRIS TOBOLSKI
The Orange County Register
PLACENTIA - Valencia found that climbing up Hills is nothing like a walk on
the Beach. The Tigers fell short against Laguna Hills, 19-17, in the CIF-SS
Southern Division quarterfinals Friday night at Valencia High. That came after
their first-round victory last week, 55-0, over Laguna Beach. The Hawks were
eliminated last season in the playoffs by Valencia. "It was exactly what we
thought it would be," Hawks coach Bruce Ingalls said. "We knew it was a tough
task and a huge challenge."
The Tigers, who trailed 19-7 in the second quarter, cut their deficit to 19-17 on a Wes Fletcher 1-yard scoring run in the third. Then in the final quarter, Valencia took over at its own 20 with 5:43 left. However, the drive ended when the Hawks' Eddie Hernandez broke up a fourth-down pass attempt with less than two minutes remaining and the Hawks ran the clock out from there. "The team played as hard as they could," Tigers coach Mike Marrujo said. "We hung in there and kept battling."
Valencia struck first on its opening drive. Fletcher ran 67 yards on the first play and then punched it in from 2 yards three plays later. "With the exception of the first play, I thought we did well with (Fletcher)," Ingalls said. The Hawks countered on their first drive with a Chris Giovinazzo 6-yard run, tying it at 7. Later in the first, Valencia pinned the Hawks at their own 1-yard line. But on third down, the Hawks delivered the biggest play of both the game and their season.
Quarterback Ryan Wertenberger connected with Giovinazzo 99 yards down the left sideline, and the Hawks never trailed again. The Tigers blitzed on the play, leaving single coverage on Giovinazzo on the outside. "When you have a quarterback with a live arm, that can happen," Ingalls said. "It easily changed the game." Wertenberger hooked up with Cameron Hall on a 30-yard touchdown pass for the Hawks' final score. The Hawks play the winner of tonight's Kennedy-Savanna match up next week.
Laguna Hills 13 6 0 0 - 19
Valencia 7 3 7 0 - 17
Val - Fletcher 2 run (Russell kick)
LaHi - Giovinazzo 6 run (Sargent kick)
LaHi - Giovinazzo 99 pass from Wertenberger (kick blocked)
LaHi - Hall 30 pass from Wertenberger (run failed)
Val - Russell 31 FG
Val - Fletcher 1 run (Russell kick)
Rushing- LaHi, Giovinazzo 14-84, Antone 2-9; Val, Fletcher 28-171, Schmidt 6-29
Passing- LaHi, Wertenberger 8-22-0-221; Val, Beckman 15-26-1-97
Receiving- LaHi, Giovinazzo 3-145, Hall 2-36; Val, Russell 5-47, Zamora 5-31
Records:LaHi 3-0, 9-1; Val 3-2, 7-5