Sophomore receiver Cody White (red, extending the ball) dives for a touchdown between defenders. This was the second of White’s two touchdowns on the day. (Cliff Robbins)
Out of all of the community college football teams in Southern California, the Saddleback Gauchos are the best. This was proved Saturday when Saddleback (10-2) defeated Long Beach City College (10-2), 43-17 in the Southern California Football Association championship game.
“This was really just the second week of the playoffs, so we’re really looking forward to that state championship,” said sophomore quarterback Johnny Stanton. “We didn’t look past Long Beach at all … we knew this is more of a playoff game then a championship.”
The Gauchos dominated from the start, both offensively and defensively, getting out to a 20-3 lead after the first quarter.
Stanton had three touchdown passes in the quarter alone, connecting with sophomore receiver Cody White twice and sophomore receiver Dominik Collins once.
“I thought I played pretty good in the first half,” White said. “Me and Dominik had a height advantage and we knew we could make some plays on [their cornerbacks].”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Gauchos got big plays from sophomores Zachary Wade, Kai Ross, Anthony Hickey and freshmen Karson Block and the defensive player of the game Jeff Holsinger.
“Everybody came together, we all did our parts, we stayed true to the defense we were running,” Holsinger said. “We really grinded for this and we deserve it.”
In the second quarter, Saddleback continued their on-slot on the Vikings. They got a field goal and a 13-yard touchdown rush from freshman running back Marvin Marshall to make it 30-3 at halftime.
The second half was more difficult for the Gauchos, but it was self-inflicted errors that caused most of it.
Saddleback fumbled on their opening drive, gave up a touchdown, missed a field goal, fumbled again and gave up another touchdown. After all of that, the Gauchos lead was only 30-17 with 11:59 left in the game.
A big return on the ensuing kickoff would change the momentum for Saddleback and they would march down the field and get a 5-yard touchdown catch from Collins who was practically playing on one leg.
“I got my knee stepped on pretty good,” Collins said. “I had to suck it up, this could have been our last game, so you gotta suck it up and go hard.”
Saddleback never looked back from that drive and commanded the game the rest of the way. When all was said and done the final score was 43-17.
“It feels great for this team, I mean this team really bonded and they played well as an entire team and I’m so proud of them,” said Saddleback head coach Mark McElroy.
Stanton ended up with 486 total yards which included a team leading 96 rush yards. He also threw four touchdown passes. Collins led the receivers with nine receptions for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
“[White and I] immediately turned to each other in the film room and said ‘this is gonna be a huge week for us’,” Collins said.
White had a good game as well, racking up four receptions for 55 yards and two touchdowns.
“I felt like our receivers were able to do whatever they wanted to do on their secondary,” White said. “Right now I think the only team that can beat us is us.”
The Gauchos will now travel up to the Bay Area for the state championship game and play City College of San Francisco (11-1). CCSF beat Chabot College, 40-30 Saturday to advance to the state title game.
CCSF is ranked No. 1 in the JCGridiron.com rankings.
“You’re talking about the best from the North, versus the best from the South, so it’ll be a good game,” McElroy said.
The Gauchos and some cheerleaders celebrated beating Long Beach City College, 43-17. With the win, the Gauchos move on to the state championship game in San Francisco against City College of San Francisco. (Cliff Robbins)