By Tony Solorzano
Whittier – A 21-3 second half allowed California High to remain undefeated and atop the Del Rio League as they knocked off Pioneer 35-17 Thursday night at Cal High’s Whittier District Field.
For the first time this season, the Condors (7-0, 3-0) got figuratively punched in the mouth early on by the Titans (1-6, 0-2) and it looked like the heavy rain that fell during the first quarter wouldn’t be the only thing to potentially ruin Cal’s Homecoming. Condors coach Jim Arnold admitted that his team had its focus elsewhere, especially five of his seniors who were in the running for Homecoming King that night.
“They weren’t focused in that first half,” said Coach Arnold after the game. “Pioneer played their butts off, and we were still hung over from last week’s win, but I’m not going to make excuses for that. There are no easy games left for us.”
The Titans jumped out to the early lead in the first quarter on their second possession, which came on a rare missed field goal by Condors kicker Eric Amezquita. After getting the ball on their own 20 yard line, the Titans needed only six plays to reach the end zone, capping the drive on a one-yard run by Angel Marquez.
On their next possession, the Titans took advantage of a bad punt by Amezquita, which put the Titans on the Condors’ 48-yard line, and ran six minutes off the clock as they drove to the Condors’ end zone, this time, Titan quarterback Jonathon Jimenez hit Anthony Acevedo with a four-yard pass for the score with 7:21 left in the half.
The Condors finally woke up as the rain started to let up in the second half. On their ensuing possession, the Condors ended the shutout on Aaron Garcia’s first of his two touchdowns, a four-yard run with 3:47 left in the half. The Condors would get the ball back after Jimenez was intercepted by Brian Limon on the first play of the ensuing drive, putting the Condors on the Titans’ 31-yard line. Five plays later, quarterback Drew Castro hit Vijay Cox with a 25-yard pass for the tying score with 1:26 left in the half.
In the second half, the Condors came out and scored on their first three possessions of the game. On the first drive of the half, Perez scored again with 8:34 left in the quarter, this time from a yard out to put the Condors ahead for good. The Titans responded on their first possession if the half by driving to the Condors’ 30, but the drive stalled and they settled for a 47-yard field goal by Michael Cano with 3:27 left in the quarter.
The Condors scored on the next drive, and in impressive fashion. With time running down in the quarter, Castro evaded two defenders in the backfield then threw to a wide-open Julio Arce in the corner of the end zone for a 31-yard score with 1:09 left.
The Condors closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter as Aaron Garcia took a five-yard run and scored with 7:19 left in the game. Although the Titans got the ball back two more times, the Condor defense stymied the Titans and they turned the ball over on downs.
Aaron Garcia led the ground game for the Condors with 73 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns, one of his lowest outputs this season. Castro threw seven of 10 passes for 140 yards and two scores. Arce caught three of those for 74 yards, while Cox caught three himself for 61 yards, both had one touchdown each.
Alvaro Vargas led the Titans’ ground game carrying the ball 11 times for 34 yards, while Jimenez got 12 of 25 passes completed for 145 yards, threw a touchdown and an interception. Angel Paez caught only one pass, but it was a 51-yard catch that set up the first touchdown for the Titans in the first quarter.
The Condors are home next week as they welcome the Santa Fe Chiefs while the Titans return to Titan Stadium to host the Whittier Cardinals.