By Alex A. Gonzalez
Covina — The Charter Oak Chargers advanced to the CIF-SS Division 8 finals behind Corin Berry’s four-touchdown performance in their 42-16 win over the Highland Bulldogs Friday night at Lou Farrar Stadium.
“I give credit, all glory to God first. My lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” said Berry after the game. “Next goes to my linemen. They gave me the time to sit in the pocket and make these plays, make my reads, and my receivers made plays. It feels great.”
From the start, Charter Oak’s offense exploded for 35 straight points, and it all started with Michael White intercepting Justin Wyatt Jr’s pass on Highland’s first possession of the game.
Two plays following White’s interception, which set up the Chargers on the Bulldog 4-yard line, Berry was the first to put points on the board when the offense executed their version of the tush push to put the team up 7-0 with 8:12 remaining in the opening frame.
From there, both offenses went cold and could not produce any points for the remainder of the quarter. However, seven seconds into the second quarter, the offensive explosion of Charter Oak began, as they never looked back by scoring on four consecutive drives.
Curtiss Taylor punched in back-to-back rushing touchdowns that put his team up 21-0. Then, once the Bulldogs started to stop the running attack, Berry connected with Sean Munoz for a 50-yard strike.
Finally, before the first half concluded, Berry hooked up with Legend Lyons, who out-jumped his defender and muscled his way to the end zone for the 40-yard score.
“We have a strong bond. I always trust that when he’s one-on-one, it’s one-on-none,” commented Berry about Lyons’ touchdown reception. “He’s one of the best athletes on the field always.”
Charter Oak went into halftime up 35-0
“We worked this week. We practiced in the rain and did anything that it took this week,” said Lyons postgame. “Everyone fought, we came out lit, and everybody was having an amazing time.”
After the break, Highland compiled its longest drive of the night by putting together a 15-play drive that led to their first score. Wyatt Jr. connected with Azim Bankhead, who slipped into the end zone from 17 yards out.
Then, on the ensuing possession, the defense forced Lyons to fumble the ball away with 2:56 left in the third period and capitalized on the excellent field position. Four plays into the drive, Wyatt Jr. dropped back to pass, and once he couldn’t find any open target, he optioned to keep the ball and run it in for the 23-yard touchdown.
The Chargers were able to respond on their next series as they compiled their longest drive of the night when Berry capped the 11-play drive when he threw his third touchdown pass of the night to Antonio Reasby for the 19-yard score, extending their lead to 42-14 with 8:10 left in the final frame.
The Bulldogs added a late safety when Charter Oak’s special teams snapped the ball into the end zone, making the final score 42-16.
“I’m just grateful. I could not be any more proud of this group of kids,” said Charter Oak Head Coach Dom Farrar. “They are defined by their reliance on the adversity that we went through this year. They persevered, and I think on the other side of this, they are starting to figure it out. They are starting to grow up.”
With the win, Charter Oak will play Jurupa Hills for the Division 8 championship next Friday night, the Chargers first appearance since 2009.