By Alex A. Gonzalez
Whittier — For the third time in school history, the La Serna Lancers are crowned champions of the CIF-SS Division Four and did so Friday night with a dominating win over Corona Del Mar 49-29 at Sandy Thorstenson Stadium. Owen Long led the way for the Lancers by scoring four rushing touchdowns with 159 yards rushing on 19 carries.
“Man, It’s surreal. It’s like what we were talking about before the game. Everyone says, 14 week journey. These past 14 games, it’s been something that’s been talked about for four years,” said Long after the game. “This whole freshman class was something that we aspired to do, and to get there and complete it is surreal.”
The Sea Kings kept the game close for the first 13 minutes of the title game. La Serna did score the game’s first touchdown midway through the first quarter when Long took the handoff and scored from 15 yards out.
Corona Del Mar was then able to respond by compiling an 11-play drive that eclipsed 4:21, resulting in Colin Pene booting a 31-yard field goal with 2:07 remaining in the opening quarter. Then the Sea King’s defensive line deflected CJ Ceron’s pass on the ensuing possession, and Cameron Benion was on the receiving end of the deflection and then took it to the Lancer 10-yard line.
The drive went nowhere as La Serna’s defense sacked Kaleb Annett for a nine-yard loss and forced incompletions on both Annett’s passes. As a result, Pene’s 36-yard field attempt was wide left, and the score remained at 7-3 as the second quarter started.
The Lancers then extended their lead following the missed field goal, covering 80 yards in two plays. On their first play, Ceron’s designed quarterback run gained 25 yards. He was aided by Long, who gave him a critical block that sprung him for the run. On the next play, Ceron handed the ball off to Long, who made one move and took it 55 yards to the house.
“That’s the best feeling. That’s football right there,” said Long when talking about his block for Ceron. “I mean, shoot, when the pads hit together, it feels better when you’re coming out on top.”
The Sea Kings made it a five-point game when Jaden Mwendepole returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards, putting the score at 14-9 after Pene’s point-after try was missed.
Those were the last points Corona Del Mar put on the Lancers for the rest of the first half.
La Serna answered back by scoring 21 unanswered points for the remaining 6:41.
Ceron capped a 10-play drive when he connected with Isaiah Ramos, who was left alone for the 22-yard touchdown. Then, after Emre Law stripped and sacked Annett on their next drive, Long took the handoff and ran it in for the nine-yard score.
Then, just before the halftime whistle, Kaimana Tufaga picked off Annett and returned it to CDM’s 15-yard line. Three plays later, Long added his fourth rushing score of the night, making the score 35-9 at the break.
“All credit to the big boys up front in terms of offense,” commented Long about his offensive performance.
The Sea Kings scored their first offensive touchdown of the night with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter when Annett connected with Russell Weir for the score. The two hooked up again for the second time of the night as the final quarter started. However, their two-point attempt failed following the touchdown, and the score stayed at 35-22.
La Serna responded with back-to-back scoring drives that closed the door of a CDM comeback.
Ceron made the score 42-22 after he optioned to keep the ball and dart his way to the end zone from 44 yards out. Then Adrian Castro added his rushing touchdown before the night ended when he bulldozed his way into the end zone, making the score 49-22.
Lastly, Corona Del Mar added a late score to the game when Annett found his favorite target, Weir, for the third time of the night, making the final score 49-29.