By Alex Gonzalez
(Monrovia) — For a team like Monrovia, one play can swing the momentum your favor and on Friday night, that’s all it took for the Wildcats to Three-peat as CIF Mid-Valley Champions at Monrovia High.
On M-Town’s first play of the second half, Blake Heyworth dropped back and connected with Anthony Craft for an 85-yard touchdown pass, starting a 23-point swing.
“That’s all we needed,” said Craft “We talked at halftime and all we said was we are a big play away and we got it.”
On the following possession Paraclete wanted to continue to run the ball effectively with Antoyne Hutcherson and Chris Campbell. But the pursuit of the Wildcat defense knocked back the Spirit offense forced them to go three and out.
From there, Monrovia’s defense controlled the half and ultimately the tempo of the game. After letting the Spirits score on a 48-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, Monrovia shut out the Spirit offense in the second half – an offense who scored 533 points this season.
At the start of the fourth, the score was still close. The Wildcats had a slim 10-7 led. Mason Bryant kicked a 22-yard field goal to break the tie. He had missed a 46-yard earlier in the first half.
After Monrovia’s James Jackson picked off a Tyler Carvalho pass, the Wildcats orchestrated a 10-play 53-yard drive the ended with a Ge’Vontray Ainsworth one-yard touchdown run.
“We came out kind of flat in the first half,” said Ainsworth. “But we’re always a second half team and when we came out in the second half we still had our heads up. Our O-line came out and dominated and they made holes so we can run the ball.”
On the following possession the Spirit offense tried to get something started but nothing happened. Carvalho couldn’t connect with his receivers and the running game was absent. Paraclete was forced to go for it on fourth from the 31 but they couldn’t convert.
It didn’t take long for the Wildcat’s to score again. George Frazier punched it in from three yards out and closed the door for a Spirit comeback.
But to make sure that the Spirits didn’t score Deshawn Potts picked off Carvalho’s pass on the following possession and started the Celebration for Monrovia.
“Paraclete is excellent football team and coach Norm Dahlia does a great job there,” said Monrovia Head Coach Ryan Maddox. “But our defense played well in the second half and our offensive line dominated in the second half. Blake Heyworth played excellent, threw some beautiful ball to Mason Bryant and Anthony Craft. It was an all around effort and this one was the best one.”
Paraclete was the more physical team in the first half. Knocking helmets off and laying big hits was something the Wildcats haven’t seen all season. Also being shut out was something Monrovia was not accustomed too.
“They were a physical football team,” said Monrovia assistant Mike Minter. “We knew that going in but yeah they were a physical football team. If we were going to win it, we were going to win it up front. They did a great job, I’m proud of the way they played.”
He and the rest of the Wildcats were proud of the way Craft performed on “that one big play.”