Taylor and defense lead Highlanders to city championship
By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal
Behind a stifling defensive effort and Cortlin Taylor’s impressive night running the ball, La Habra stretched its rivalry-game winning streak over Sonora with a 35-7 victory Friday night.
The Highlanders stingy defense more than compensated for a mistake prone offensive effort, by keeping the Raiders off the scoreboard until late in the third quarter.
Taylor was the workhorse for the Highlanders tonight finishing with 162 yards rushing— four touchdowns. His best performance so far this year picked up the slack for an uncharacteristic poor passing night for the Highlanders.
“This was probably my best game yet, but there are more games to go,” Taylor said. “My offensive line was opening up some big holes tonight I have to give all my thanks to them.”
Despite cruising to victory, the Highlanders struggled throwing the ball the entire game. Highlander receivers dropped seven passes in the first half, three of which would have been uncontested touchdowns.
Highlanders Head Coach Frank Mazzotta was not as thrilled as one might think with such a lopsided victory. Mazzota gave credit to his defense and the running game, but was displeased with the overall performance tonight, especially when talking about the dropped passes.
“It’s embarrassing, it’s not championship level,” Mazzotta said. “I don’t know if the bye week had something to do with it, but our timing was just a little off tonight.”
The second half proved no better for the passing game, as quarterback Eric Barriere finished with just 60 yards passing on the night. The only passing touchdown for the Highlanders came early in the second quarter on an 11-yard pass from Barriere to Logan Gomez into the end zone.
The Raiders lone score came with 2:02 remaining in the third quarter on a Jacob Fimbres 9-yard touchdown run. Up to that point, the Highlanders defense thwarted every Raider drive by interception, fumble recovery or forcing a turnover-on-downs.
The Highlanders defense recovered two fumbles and intercepted Raiders quarterback Cole McDonald three times— two of which by corner back Khailand Johnson.
The Raiders attempted and recovered two onside kicks in the second half. The second one recovered by Steve Riley setup their only scoring drive.
McDonald led the Raiders offensively with 107 yards rushing and 81 yards passing, but had three interceptions and a lost fumble. Fimbres, the Raiders leading rusher this season finished with just 76 yards on the ground, over 100 yards short of his average.
Raiders Head Coach Paul Chiotti was happy with the way his team battled, knowing they were up against.
La Habra hosts Buena Park next week and Sonora travels to Buena Park to play Sunny Hills.