Tag Archive | "CIF"

Highlanders blank Raiders for 16th straight rivalry game

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Highlanders blank Raiders for 16th straight rivalry game

Posted on 21 October 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

The La Habra high football team claimed another City Championship, shutting out Sonora 40-0 Friday night at The Pit in La Habra.

The Highlander defense, which held Sonora to 104 yards of total offense, has been dominant for five consecutive games now.

They have outscored opponents a combined 227-17 during that stretch and have yet to allow a touchdown in Freeway League play thus far.

“When you get stops and get them off the field, it gives our offense a chance to score,” said Frank Mazzotta, La Habra head coach. “Anytime you can shut your opponent out, they have no chance of winning.”

Quarterback Zach Fogel moved the ball methodically down the field with both his legs and his arm most of the night.

For the third consecutive week, Mazzotta found spots to weave sophomore quarterback Ryan Zanelli into the Highlanders offense.

Zanelli again took advantage of his opportunities on the field, looking accurate from the pocket and leading the offense down the field.

Mazzotta acknowledged Fogel has been playing better than ever the past five weeks, but said he enjoys getting to see what his young quarterback can do against the opponents first teamers.  

“To me it’s fun,” he said. “I really have fun with it.”

Anyone who has been around the La Habra football program knows how much he likes to give all of his players an opportunity to shine on Friday nights.

With his fourth quarter touchdown pass to senior Steven Saucedo, Zanelli has found the end zone in all three of his appearances.

The Raiders kept the game within striking distance for most of the first half.

It was 12-0 with under two minutes remaining in the first half. That’s when Fogel scrambled left and found Mitchell Anderson in the corner of the end zone for a 25-yard score to widen the gap.

A Nate Ulloa interception late in the third quarter set up Skyler Taylor’s 70-yard touchdown run on the very next play.

Taylor finished with 130 yards and two touchdowns.

La Habra (6-2, 3-0) will host last season’s League Champs, Buena Park (1-7, 0-3), who have been scuffling next Friday.

Despite the score, Sonora (5-3, 1-2) has vastly improved from a season ago, in which they were winless. The Raiders will take on Sunny Hills (6-2, 1-2) in a pivotal game for both schools next week at Buena Park High School.

“The thing I love is that these kids now give themselves a chance to compete with a team of [La Habra’s] caliber,” said Daniel Morales, Sonora head coach. “I’m proud of the work they put in all year to get bigger and stronger.”

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Phillips shines as La Habra spoils Colony homecoming

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Phillips shines as La Habra spoils Colony homecoming

Posted on 23 September 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Sophomore cornerback Clark Phillips III returned three interceptions for touchdowns to key La Habra’s 49-14 blowout victory over Colony High School in Ontario Friday night.

“I ate a lot [for breakfast] today, eggs, bacon, grits, sausage and I just prayed for a good game,” Phillips said, when asked how he prepared for his breakout game. “I just want to thank god for this awesome opportunity and the coaches for giving me the opportunity.”

Photo by Paul Luna – La Habra sophomore cornerback Clark Phillips III with one of his three interceptions against Colony Friday.

 

Phillips also feasted on fellow sophomore, quarterback Marco Gonzalez, who entered the game midway through the Titans opening drive after starter Joseph Tesimale left with an apparent knee injury.

After Gonzalez lead the Titans the rest of the way down the field and inched over the goal line on 4th down to take an early lead, the Titan offense appeared to not skip a beat.

But Phillips intercepted Gonzalez on the Titans next possession and returned it 38 yards down the sideline to tie the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.

After the Highlanders took a narrow 21-14 lead into halftime, Phillips spurred a 28-point third quarter surge with two more interception returns.

Quarterback Zack Fogel lead the Highlanders down the field on the opening drive of the half connecting with Deavyn Woullard, who made a diving catch in the back of the end zone for a 45-yard score– the first of their two touchdowns in the quarter.

Photo By Paul Luna -Highlander Quarterback Zack Fogel throws a pass in La Habra’s road win Friday against Colony High School.

Phillips followed with his most miraculous play of the night, leaping up to grab an Gonzalez’s overthrown pass with one hand and streaking down the sideline 42 yards for the score to make it 35-14 just three minutes into the third quarter.

Phillips said afterwards that his ball skills and return ability come from playing offense his whole life. He has only been playing cornerback since coming to high school. Prior to that, he had always played running back.

Head coach Frank Mazzotta has taken notice, finding ways to get Phillips increasingly involved on the offensive side of the ball as the season goes on as well.

After Fogel found Woullard again for a 17-yard touchdown, Phillips pulled a pick-six hat-trick with a 60-yard touchdown, again streaking down the La Habra sideline–this time waving bye as he accelerated past the Titans 6’5” wide receiver Michael Ezeike.

Fogel’s night was far more impressive than his modest 92 yards and two touchdowns suggest.

The senior quarterback was accurate all night, but the Highlander receivers had a case of the drops early on, including three in a row that stalled the opening drive of the game.

“I’m telling you right now, [Fogel] has struggled throwing the ball in the past,” Mazzotta said. “But Zack has gotten a lot better and you saw that tonight, this is a culmination of 18 games starting now and the ball is in the right places, he threw it with some velocity and hit people in the hands–that’s what I’m most happy about honestly.”

“Obviously the time helps, experience makes everyone better especially at the quarterback position,” Fogel said. “The coaching is just superb, we watch a lot of film and honestly you don’t want to be your best week-one, we want to be our best in the playoffs, so we’re just trying to get closer to that each week.”

Photo by Paul Luna – a Habra sophomore cornerback Clark Phillips III runs back one of his three interceptions for a touchdown.

Skyler Taylor kept his scoring streak intact, leaping over the pile for a 2-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Despite giving way to other running backs for much of the second half in each of the Highlanders three lopsided victories, Taylor impressively has 11 rushing touchdowns and at least one in each game this season.

The loss drops Colony to 3-2 this season. The Titans struggled without Tesimale and the extent of his injury is unknown. Head coach Steve Randall said he will know more on Monday or Tuesday.

Perhaps the most shocking stat line was the penalty disparity between the two teams. Colony finished the game without an official penalty enforced against them. They were called for holding in the third quarter, however it came on the heels of Gonzalez being sacked, so the penalty was declined by La Habra.

While it’s unclear how long he will be sidelined, fortunately Randall will have two weeks to either get his quarterback healthy or prepare for their first league game against Chaffey without him since the Titans have a bye week coming up.

La Habra improved its record to 3-2 heading into league play. Their two losses came against Upland, the top team in CIF Division 2, and Mission Viejo, the No. 2 team in Division 1.

The Highlanders open league against a much improved Sunny Hills (4-0) at Buena Park High School Oct. 6. The Lancers feature one of the top rushers in Orange County, Alex Jung.

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Rebuilt Raiders look to reap their redemption

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Rebuilt Raiders look to reap their redemption

Posted on 02 August 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

To say last season was rough for the Sonora Raiders might be an understatement. It was a new coach with a new system working with a team that lost the majority of its veteran and skilled players.
However, second year Head Coach Daniel Morales is optimistic for this season.
“This season, we have a lot to prove,” Morales said. “We’re still a young team and staff, but I’m happy with how hard the guys have worked. We are a lot stronger and bigger this year.”
Morales noted that he has some veterans coming back, but likes what he sees in the younger players that are continuing to build their skills.
Senior Ryan Martinez will be the Raider starter at quarterback.
He will have a host of Raiders to throw to, including senior tight end Troy McDonald and receivers Josh Gonzalez and Derek Cole. He will also have Cal-committed Chigozie Anusiem who will spend time on both sides of the ball as receiver and corner.
Running back Chandler Thompson will head up the Raider ground attack, along with sophomore Ryan Loudon.
On defense, Morales said senior Tommy Mendrin should have a big year at safety. Edward Medina, Alan Huerta and Anusiem will help round out the Raider secondary.
Morales said he likes what he is seeing in his linebacking corps. Thompson and Trent Rodriguez are set to start, with others rotating in.
Morales said the Raider line is shaping up well on both sides of the ball. Anchored by Calvin Chuayiuso, Jose Lopez and all league lineman Sebastian Perez, Sonora should have an imposing front.
The Raiders will be hungry for their first win since their first-round CIF victory over Tustin in 2015.
Morales noted the Freeway League is on a different spot this year with new coaching staffs at Troy and Buena Park and a second-year coach at Sunny Hills. He said Sonora will play hard and, as long as they stay healthy, they will battle for a playoff spot.
The Raiders open up at home against Whittier High School on August 25.
Sonora looks to avenge last year’s opening-day 16-0 loss against the Cardinals (5-5,2-3). Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

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Lady Highlanders react to resignation, LHHS looks for new coach

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Lady Highlanders react to resignation, LHHS looks for new coach

Posted on 30 June 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

La Habra High School Softball Coach Steve Harrington stepped down shortly after the season despite an immensely successful two-year run at the helm.

Photo courtesy Miguel Pola –  All about coaching: Steve Harrington resigned late last month as head softball coach at La Habra after leading the Lady Highlanders to a 21-8, 9-1 season and helped them move to Division 1 in CIF.

Despites only being at La Habra for less than two seasons, Harrington developed a bond with his team that has arguable impacted each of them.
So much so, that upon hearing of his decision to step down, a large group of team members and parents demanded a meeting with school administration to plead for Harrington to remain with the school.
Eleven varsity softball players, along with parents, La Habra High School Principal Karl Zener and Athletic Director Frank McCarroll held a meeting with last month to fight for Harrington.
According to former Lady Highlander and assistant coach Regina Andrade, who was present at the meeting, the players, parents and Andrade`each voiced their support of Harrington for helping to better the team and the program as a whole.
All 11 girls showed up with heartfelt letters in-hand, explaining how Harrington had, and continues to impact their lives both on and off the field.
The meeting concluded with the administration stating that it was out of the their hands because Harrington had resigned earlier in the week.
After the meeting, the group of players and parents went to the district office to fight for Harrington. According to multiple sources, the only solution provided was to have Harrington re-apply for the position.
McCarroll could not comment on the personnel situation.
“We wish Coach Harrington the best and thank him for the past two years,” Zener said.
Harrington was able to help lead the Lady Highlanders to remarkable on-the-field success in his short time with the team.
A little more than a month after arriving, Harrington lead the team on an unprecedented 27-game winning streak, which only came to an end during the 2016 CIF semifinals.
After the team’s success in his first season the Lady Highlanders became the first team in any sport in the history of the school to be moved up and compete in CIF Division 1.
Many parents and players reacted to the promotion with some fear that the 2017 season would be difficult.
Harrington though, didn’t sweat it. Instead he reacted by working to inspire the team to believe they absolutely belonged at the top. And convinced the team that they would not only compete in Division 1, but beat a lot of the top team’s in the division.
And that’s exactly what they did.
The Lady Highlanders finished the 2017 season with an impressive 21-8, 9-1 record, and along the way beat some of the top ranked teams in the nation.
The Lady Highlanders were actually ranked in the top-10 in the nation back in March, after defeating Orange Lutheran and the No. 1-ranked team in the Nation Los Alamitos in back-to-back games during the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Bullhead, Arizona.
Few people know what Harrington has done, and continues, to do behind the scenes for his girls.
His reputation for being a hard-nosed coach is earned. According to him, he makes his players put in the work and hold them accountable.
He explains that it comes from a place of wanting to help his players become the best they can be.
The touching letters penned by some of his players to the school paint a picture of what is underneath that tough exterior.
They tell a story of a coach, a mentor and for some, even a father figure who went out of his way to make sure all of his players were able to compete at the highest level on the field, and be the best version of themselves off of it as well.
“Steve has impacted my life in many ways,” catcher Alyssa Rios said. “He brought my confidence up when nobody believed in me, not even myself and turned me into a catcher I never thought I could be.”
“Steve showed me the more detailed parts of the game,” first baseman Alyssa Palacios said. “He’s also showed me how far confidence can get you and he’s just made me see the game in a different aspect that makes the game quicker and more fun, he’s an awesome coach and an awesome person in general.”
“Coach Steve really cared about me and always had my back,” shortstop Savannah Tourville said. “Not only is coach Steve coaching us but he really cares about each player and wants us to get to the next level and help us in the future after college.”
Harrington’s impact was also felt off the field for many of the girls. Perhaps none more so than Rios.
“He also helped me through my depression,” Rios said. “My dad had passed away about 11 months ago and he was there for me, pushing me to be a better person and I thank him for that everyday.”
“He’s given me opportunities of a lifetime with college,” she continued. “He’s overall an amazing person and a father figure in my eyes.”

Many of the players echoed sentiments about Harrington’s generosity, pointing out how he bought the team matching cleats at the beginning of the season and helped pay for some players to travel out of state for the Tournament of Champions.
“He always told us that money was not an issue,” Tourville said. “He helped out with free lessons and paid for many other things, even simple things like buying the team breakfast and giving us that time to bond.”
Palacios explained that he would help out the girls who couldn’t afford the Laughlin trip or the banquet, and that there would be a way for them to go.
Harrington still helps the girls when he can. He’ll attend travel pall games and provide a free lesson here and there. He’s also working his connections in the softball world to help set up college scouting visits for the girls still without scholarship offers.
“He’s contacted a few schools for me and one of them really likes me,” Rios said.
“He’s helped me after the season to prepare me for college,” Palacios said.
In his two seasons, Harrington helped the La Habra softball program grow and develop into one of the top programs, and he is ready for his next opportunity.
La Habra is currently accepting applications for the coaching position and hopes to have someone in place by the start of the school year.

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Lady Highlanders look for redemption

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Lady Highlanders look for redemption

Posted on 10 March 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Unfinished business. That’s exactly what the Lady Highlanders softball team has collectively had on their minds since a crushing loss in the 2016 CIF semifinals derailed La Habra’s championship bid and snapped their school record 26-game winning streak.

Photo courtesy Paula Luna
Ready for the season: The Lady Highlander softball team looks to continue where they finished last year by recapturing the league title and competing for a CIF title. With a number of seniors and returning players, La Habra looks to improve on its 29-2 record from last year.

Despite ending on a sour note, the Lady Highlanders finished with a 29-2 record and have plenty to be optimistic about in 2017. The girls finished a perfect 10-0 in league and will be returning all but three starting position players.
First and foremost, they return a pair of aces in the circle. Seniors Hannah Johnson and Janelle Rodriguez might be the best pitching tandem in the county. Both girls are coming off back-to-back dominant seasons. According to head coach Steve Harrington, Rodriguez is back at full strength after suffering through a shoulder injury late last season.
La Habra will also have All-CIF outfielder Kira Cauley back to spark the offense again. Cauley is a legitimate five-tool talent. In addition, seniors Billie Jean Wells, Alyssa Palacios and Alyssa Rios are all returning starters and major contributors from last season.
La Habra will have some big shoes to fill at a couple key positions though.
Shortstop Frankie Mendoza and catcher Nikki Butler both moved on to play collegiately. Last year’s captains were heart of the order batters and equally valuable on the defensive end. That said, replacing their leadership could prove to be the most difficult hurdle this year.
Although the Lady Highlanders lost a few key starters from a year ago, they are still far and away the favorite to win another Freeway League title.

Photo courtesy Paula Luna Sparking the offense: All-CIF Outfielder Kira Cauley is one of the many seniors that look to help lead the Lady Highlanders this season. La Habra is looking to recapture the league title and run for CIF title.

Sonora (13-11, 6-4) finished in second, while Sunny Hills (16-10, 5-5) and Fullerton (18-12, 5-5) were right behind.
The Raiders are lead by senior captain Claudia Kim, who pitches and plays middle-infield for Sonora.
Harrington is excited about having a lot of returning players and believes a couple girls stepping up from the junior varsity team, as well as a couple freshman will make significant contributions right away.
“A beautiful surprise this year, has been Alexis Riley,” Harrington said.
Riley is a senior, but played junior varsity last season. Harrington admitted her talent has always been there, but praised her on her maturity during the offseason.
La Habra’s success during Harrington’s first season at the helm didn’t go unnoticed. The Lady Highlanders were bumped up to a Division 1 team this year for the first time in school history.
“I don’t care what division we’re in, I’ve been in that division,” Harrington said. “I’ve been down that road many times, heck last year’s team beat the Division 1 champion.”
Harrington added a gauntlet of tough out of league games to the schedule this year to better prepare the girls for the rigors of CIF. After getting his first full offseason with his team, Harrington believes they have what it takes to beat anybody regardless of division.
“This is a tight knit group,” he concluded, “and in my experience, the tighter the group the better the team.

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Highlanders outgunned by Nighthawks arsenal

Posted on 26 November 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

La Habra’s Cinderella CIF run came to end Friday night at home, as the Highlanders dropped a wild shootout to Murrieta Valley 62-43 in the semifinal matchup.

The Highlanders came out fired up for the CIF-SS semifinal game Friday. Photo by Matt Brown.

The normally stout Highlander defense was undone by the precision right arm of Nighthawk quarterback Hank Bachmeier and the explosive legs of running back Olita Palmer.

La Habra’s Giron and Casillias put a hit on Murrieta Valley’s Olita Palmer during Friday’s’ semifinals loss. Photo by Matt Brown.

Palmer, who began the game with just under 2000 yards on the season, carried the ball 37 times for 290 yards and reached the end zone four times. Palmer credited his offensive line and said he was just following them all night.

“This was just an emotional game, we went into the locker room like we didn’t want the season to end,” Palmer said. “We like going to practice, I like being surrounded by this group of guys and I’ll do anything for them.”

Bachmeier’s accuracy was on full display, as the sophomore completed 23-27 passes for 306 yards and five touchdowns. He also added 56 yards rushing.

“That’s a really good offense, they have everything,” said La Habra Head Coach Frank Mazzotta. “They have a good quarterback-check, running back-check, receivers-check and offensive line-check.”

Mazzotta added that there was so much talent on the field tonight that it felt like a college game, and the score reflected that.

The Highlanders actually got on the board first. On the opening drive, quarterback Zach Fogel quickly moved the offense down the field 61 yards on six plays before Madison Wheeler punched it in from three yards out.

La Habra Quarterback Zach Fogel looks for Henderson during the semifinal game. Fogel passed for 220 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for two others. Photo by Matt Brown.

Murrieta Valley answered back right away. After each team had a pair of possessions the score was knotted at 14.

The Highlanders finally stumbled on their third possession, going three-and-out after being hit with their fourth false start penalty of the first quarter.

The Nighthawks took the lead on the next possession when Bachmeier connected with Marquis Spiker from 18 yards out for the duo’s second of three scores of the night.

The Highlanders listen to their coaches as they watch video during the CIF-SS semifinal loss to Murrieta Valley Friday. Photo by Matt Brown.

The Highlanders successfully slowed down and beat two high powered offenses, in Oaks Christian and Redlands East Valley, in the first two rounds of CIF, but had no answer for Murrieta Valley all night.

After forcing five interceptions and making key stops in critical situations the previous two weeks, the Highlanders failed to stop the Nighthawks from scoring on a single possession until they fumbled the ball with 3:09 left in the game. However, by then the game was already out of reach.

La Habra Linebacker Cameron Rivas tried to fire up the team before Friday’s game. Photo by Matt Brown.

“We took ourselves out of our element,” said linebacker and leading tackler Camron Rivas. “It’s not all about X’s and O’s, it’s about who wants it more and they wanted it more tonight.”

Rivas had double digit tackles in all three playoff games this season, picking up right where he left off in 2015, when Rivas was named the divisional Defensive Player of the Year in CIF Southern Section.

“I would never point the finger at our defense at all,” Fogel said. “They are playing the best ball they have played in a long time, I think our

La Habra’s Zach Fogel and Madison Wheeler celebrate in the end zone after a score Friday night. Photo by Matt Brown.

defense has some great leaders and is full of fighters, but Murrieta just had more playmakers tonight.”

La Habra’s offensive unit was impressive as well, scoring on six of the first eight possessions.

Fogel threw for 220 yards with two touchdowns and added 92 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, including a 44-yard keeper that he took into the end zone untouched that tied the game at 21 early in the second quarter.

Prince Ross caught three passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Ross also broke free for an 80 yard touchdown run a few minutes before halftime to bring the Highlanders within a score. But the Nighthawks wound up adding another score with just :18 left in the second quarter to make it 42-28 at the half. La Habra kept pace, but couldn’t cut it below two scores the rest of the way.

Wheeler ran the ball effectively for the third consecutive week, but because La Habra was playing from behind the entire second half, Mazzotta

La Habra’s hard-fought season comes to an end with a 62-43 loss to Murrieta Valley in the CIF-SS semifinal game Friday. Photo by Matt Brown.

couldn’t stick with the running game as much as he would have liked to. Wheeler collected 91 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries, and added 27 yards receiving.

“I’m so proud of how much we improved this year,” Mazzotta said. “This team was so much fun, they came to practice everyday and worked their asses off, they were really a lot of fun to be around.”

The Highlanders end the season at 8-5, one game shy of a rematch with San Clemente for the chance at back-to-back CIF titles, so they were understandably downtrodden afterwards. However coming in to the playoffs as the No. 14 seed, the 2016 Highlander football team far-exceeded expectations in the CIF tournament.

“It’s a bitter-sweet moment right now, I’m blessed that I had an opportunity to do this for four years and to do it at the level I did it at,” Rivas said afterwards reflecting on his final game. “I just want thank my coaches, thank my teammates and thank God most importantly, I’m truly grateful and truly blessed, I can’t even say how much I love this place.”

“The hardest thing about this is seeing my guys and knowing how hard we fought, but I couldn’t be more proud of my guys,” Fogel added. “I think we really grew as a brotherhood this year.”

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Highlanders tame Wildcats to advance to semifinal game

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Highlanders tame Wildcats to advance to semifinal game

Posted on 19 November 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Highlighted by a stifling first half and a pair of late interceptions, the La Habra defense

La Habra's Madison Wheeler brushes off a Wildcat defender during the Higlanders' 31-21 victory at home Friday.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal                   La Habra’s Madison Wheeler brushes off a Wildcat defender during the Higlanders’ 31-21 victory at home Friday.

frustrated another prolific offense Friday night, defeating Redlands East Valley 31-21 to advance to the CIF semifinals.

La Habra took the lead on the opening drive and never relinquished it, thanks to a suffocating defense that forced REV to a three-and-out on all-but two drives in the first half.

The Highlanders took a commanding 24-7 lead into the break, after limiting the Wildcats to just 15 yards on the ground and quarterback Armando Herrera to just 87 yards and one touchdown through the air in the first half.

“We have the best defensive coordinators in the nation, I really believe that,” said linebacker Camron Rivas, the Highlanders leading tackler. “Every week he puts together a great gameplan.”

Just six plays into the game, quarterback Zach Fogel tossed a zero screen to Pervis Henderson, who made one man miss and blazed down the sideline for a 69-yard score.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal          La Habra Quarterback Zach Fogel throws downfield to a receiver.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal                                                  La Habra Quarterback Zach Fogel throws downfield to a receiver.

The next possession saw Fogel toss another zero screen for a big gain. This time it was Derrick Corso taking one 35 yards to set up his eventual score from 11 yards out.

Scoring on the first two drives of the game was all attributed to my coaching, and their ability to come out with a plan that works,” Fogel said. “That’s what our coaches are so good at, they know exactly what to do at what time.”

Fogel to executed an intelligent game plan with quick passes and a lot of read option plays to neutralize two of the best pass rushers in the country, Jaelan Phillips and Aaron House.

“We have a motto, it’s not about who you are playing, it’s about who you are,” Fogel said.

Phillips and House entered the game with a combined 34 sacks. House notched the only sack for the duo all night, but the play was negated by a facemask penalty.

Head coach Frank Mazzotta said afterward that he knew coming into the season that Fogel was a tough kid with a great work ethic, but he has seen his quarterback’s decision making and intelligence on the field steadily improve throughout the season.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal       La Habra sophomore cornerback Kalani Washington launches as Wildcat defender in La Habra's 31-21 win Friday.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal        La Habra sophomore cornerback Kalani Washington launches as Wildcat defender in La Habra’s 31-21 win Friday.

The Highlander defense put the game away for good after forcing turnovers on three consecutive series.

“La Habra always has a good defense, but this team is doing something special,” Fogel said.

Alan Giron sealed the victory with a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter.

Marcus Carrasco blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt and for good measure, Isaiah Alcocer picked off Herrera in the back of the end zone on the Wildcats next two possessions.

Fogel finished the game with 204 yards(190 coming in the first half), and two touchdowns.

Madison Wheeler rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown, while the entire Wildcat team only gained 46 yards on the ground.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal.  La Habra runningback Madison Wheeler pushes off Wildcat defender in La Habra's 31-21 victory over Redlands East Vallet Firday.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal.                  La Habra runningback Madison Wheeler pushes off Wildcat defender in La Habra’s 31-21 victory over Redlands East Valley Firday.

Following the tough loss to Buena Park, Mazzotta pointed out how the team would learn from their defeat and get better. Since then, the Highlanders have played by far their best football of the season.

“A loss doesn’t define us,” Mazzotta added. “One thing the kids do is show up everyday, they work hard and try to get better every day.”

La Habra (8-4) will host the semifinal matchup against Murrieta Valley next Friday at 7 p.m. No. 2 Murrieta Valley (10-2) is coming off 63-34 blowout over St. Bonaventure. No. 14 La Habra is the lowest seed to make the semifinal round in all of CIF.

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Highlanders battle, check Lions off the list

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Highlanders battle, check Lions off the list

Posted on 12 November 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Photo by Paul Luna

Photo by Paul Luna — La Habra’s Madison Wheeler pushes through a Lions defender as the Highlanders beat Oaks Christian in CIF playoffs Friday night on the road. Wheeler had 233 yards on 37 carries.

The La Habra football team entered the opening round of CIF in an unfamiliar position, as an underdog on the road, but that didn’t stop the Highlanders from doing what they have done for 18 years under Frank Mazzotta, win CIF playoff games.

 

The Highlanders saved their best showing of the season for when in counted, upsetting No. 3 Oaks Christian 35-28 at Westlake Village Friday night.

In a game that had been blow-for-blow from the onset La Habra found itself on the road, down a score with under four minutes to go.

Trailing 28-21 and facing a 4th-and-7, quarterback Zach Fogel scrambled out of the pocket and made an Aaron Rogers-like jump throw across his body, connecting with Derrick Corso who cut all the way back across the field for a 17-yard score to tie the game with 3:18 to play.

Alex Alcocer continued turning the tide in La Habra’s favor when he picked off Matt Corral on the following possession, setting up the game winning score.

Photo by Paul Luna

Photo by Paul Luna — La Habra Quarterback Zach Fogel looks for an open receiver. The Highlanders beat Oaks Christian on the road Friday in the first round of CIF playoffs.

Fogel took the first snap, read the triple-option perfectly and found Prince Ross wide open in the back of the end zone from 21 yards out to give La Habra the lead with a couple minutes left.

Despite the one score lead, there was still plenty of time left for a Corral led passing attack that had already burned the Highlanders on big plays all game long.

Enter Mr. Corso. Already owning a pair of touchdown catches on offense, the senior shifted his playmaking skills to the defensive side for his third act. On the Lions ensuing drive, Corso picked off Corral at midfield with :45 left to seal the hardfought victory for the Highlanders some 67 miles away from home.

The Highlanders picked off the Corral three times Friday night, which is newsworthy considering the USC commit had only thrown three all season coming into the game. Isaac Soto Morales’ interception just before halftime set up the Highlanders third score.

Madison Wheeler carried the Highlander offense on his back to the tune of 160 yards and a touchdown in the first half. The Lions knew Wheeler was going to get the ball, but just couldn’t stop the two-way workhorse.

Photo by Paul Launa

Photo by Paul Launa — Senior Receiver Prince Ross pulls down a Zach Fogel pass in the end zone for the Highlanders’ go-ahead score against Oaks Christian Friday in Westlake Village.

Wheeler’s dominance running the ball early allowed Fogel to pick the Lions apart in critical situations the rest of the way. He finished with a whopping 233 yards on 37 carries.

Fogel finished with four touchdowns on the night (3 pass, 1 rush), and seemed to make the right decisions all night long.

For the past three weeks, Mazzotta has talked about his quarterback’s steady improvement, pointing out Fogel’s 4.8 GPA and toughness.

Even when the junior quarterback made a mistake, it helped the Highlanders. Fogel’s lone interception came on a 4th-and-long play with nobody open downfield, so it basically amounted to a 20-yard punt instead of a sack or incomplete pass.

Prince Ross caught the go-ahead touchdown pass and had 136 total yards.

La Habra (7-4) will travel about the same distance, but in the opposite direction to play Redlands East Valley (9-2), next Friday at 7:30 p.m. Redlands is coming off a 41-30 opening round win over Great Oak.

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Raider grapplers pillage Freeway League Finals

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Raider grapplers pillage Freeway League Finals

Posted on 13 February 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

The Sonora wrestling team hit the mats with high expectations and delivered champions in seven different weight classes at the Freeway League tournament Friday night, but it was a firstyear wrestler that stole the show.Lions Pasta Fest 2016

Sonora 285-pound champion Jorge Bernabe was named MVP of the heavier weights after notching his second fall in the title match against Juan Lopez of Troy. Sonora Head Coach David Carrizosa was especially impressed with Bernabe, a former football player who never wrestled prior to this, his senior, year.

“I had been trying to get him out for four years to wrestle,” Carrizosa said. “He finally came out, but it’s funny because he had this promise, he said, ‘coach I’ll come out if you make me league champion,’ and I said ‘sure.’”

Sonora's Chucky Chavez puts Buena Park's Josh Vargas in an awkward position on his way to win the 152-pound title.

Sonora’s Chucky Chavez puts Buena Park’s Josh Vargas in an awkward position on his way to win the 152-pound title.

Carrizosa made good on his promise, now he feels that Bernabe has a good chance at CIF and possibly further. He is hoping that Bernabe’s success will, “trigger more football players to come out for wrestling.”

“He barely started wrestling in January,” Carrizosa said. “He was late to the party, but his only losses were to top ranked guys in the state and he held his own with them.”

The Raiders hope to have at least one wrestler enter the CIF tournament as a No. 1 seed next week at Citrus Hill High School in Moreno Valley. Josh Kawaguchi won the 160-pound weight class, marking his second Freeway League title.

“Josh should be seeded first, he’s a returning CIF Champion,” Carrizosa said. “He is up three weight classes at 160, but based on the criteria he should be first–he was and State qualifier [in 2015].”

Carrizosa pointed out that Bernabe could earn a top seed in the CIF Tournament as well. He said that his record is (15-2) this season, adding that, “his only losses came against top-ranked guys in the state.”

 Sonora's Nate Avila takes control over Troy's Jacob Alderson in the 138-pound weight class.

Sonora’s Nate Avila takes control over Troy’s Jacob Alderson in the 138-pound weight class.

Sonora’s Isaiah Perez (113), Hiwad Stanekzai (120), Nate Avila (138), Jacob Pelayo (145) and Chucky Chavez (152) were all crowned Freeway League Champions as well.

In addition to the seven league champs, the Raiders also had two additional league placers, giving the team a total of nine CIF qualifiers, the same number they had last year. Carlos Castilla (195) and Sebastian Perez (220) both finished third.

La Habra High School qualified four wrestlers for the tournament next week. La Habra’s Edward Medina (132)  took third after beating Solomon Than of Sonora. Brandon Murry (145) took third after beating Luke Boyd of Buena Park. Carlos Castilla (195) pulled off a second-period fall

La Habra's Wayne Nicholson Worksto turn Sonora's Hiwad Stanekzai in the 120-pount championship match.

La Habra’s Wayne Nicholson Worksto turn Sonora’s Hiwad Stanekzai in the 120-pount championship match.

against Eddie Estrada to take third and qualify for the CIF tournament.  Wayne Nicholson (120), lead the Highlanders with his second-place finish in the tournament.

Adrian Diaz (132) of Troy High School was named MVP of the lighter weights.

Freeway League qualifiers have a long bus ride in their future. The CIF tournament will be next Friday at Citrus Hill High School, located 45 miles away in Perris.

Click here for more photos from the tournament.

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WEB_LHJ Sonora_SH base_0249

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Raiders beat Knights, move to CIF Quarterfinals

Posted on 26 May 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

The Sonora Raiders advance to the Southern Section Quarterfinals with a 5-2 victory against Katella.

The Raiders battled back, scoring five unanswered runs to shut down the Knights.WEB_LHJ Sonora_SH base_0173

Austin Weddle toed the rubber for the Raiders who worked in and out of jams for six innings.

“He seems to be fighting himself all the time, he’s cutting his pitches off short,” Tellers said.

Weddle started the game reliant on his fastball, but gained command of his curveball and changeup.

“He just kept battling through it,” Tellers said.

Weddle however did not have much help behind him as the Raiders defense showed one of their weaker performances.

With runners on first and second base and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Raiders got some timely defense off the bench.

Alex Penaloza hit a deep fly ball to left field. Jacob Tennyson trailed the high fly ball into the corner and eventually caught it before it got lost in the corner.

Tennyson is regarded as the fastest player in the Sonora baseball program with a 6.3 second 60 yard dash.

“He’s usually the guy out there in the late innings, and he had the smarts to get that one back in the infield,” Tellers said.

Katella was on the run, so when Tennyson hauled it in, both runners had a long run to get back to their bases, allowing Tennyson to relay a ball into the infield to double off Matt Morello from first.

“I thought for sure it was going to be a 5-4 game with a runner on third,” Tellers said expecting the play to end as a triple.WEB_LHJ Sonora_SH base_0583

The throw ended the game securing a 5-2 victory.

Katella scored their first run in the second inning.

With two on and no outs, Eduardo Ureno dropped a bunt down in front of Eli Villalobos. Villalobos tried to throw the runner out at second, but his throw sailed into center field scoring Penaloza. With runners on the corners Katella hit a grounder to Justin Mellano. Mellano made a strong throw to home to tie Gabriel Gamboa up between the basepath in a pickle. Weddle struck the next batter out before escaping the jam one batter later.

Wilem Drozdowski reached on an infield single in the third to set the table for the Raiders. JP Sarro followed with another single to put runners on first and second. Eli Villalobos fouled off a pitch in front of the Raiders dugout, and Drozdowski tagged up after Roberto Jaime bobbled the catch in front of the fence. Dylan Villalobos singled up the middle to tie the game, bringing in Drozdowski.

The Raiders added to their run total in the fourth with a leadoff single by Jake Rosander. Mellano then sacrificed him over to second.

Gabe Armstrong singled putting runners on the corners and Jason Clayton singled down the line to bring in Rosander for a 2-1 lead.

In the sixth, the Raiders scored their third run on back to back doubles from Mellano and Armstrong. Armstrong would try to score on a single to left, but was thrown out at the plate. Armstrong appeared to injure his hamstring on the play.

In the seventh inning, Katella’s pitching trouble led to two runs for the Raiders.WEB_LHJ Sonora_SH base_0249

“It’s about making plays,” Tellers said, “Defense will usually cost you games, I think we got a couple from them because of mistakes on defense, and I know for sure we threw a few away.”

Eli Villalobos reached on an infield single to third base. He took second on a wild pitch and went to third on Dylan’s single to center. Another wild pitch scored Eli and put Dylan at second.

Chandler Koontz reached on a walk, then swiped second on a wild pitch. Dylan Villalobos scored on another wild pitch to give the Raiders a 5-1 lead.

The Knights season ended after they scored their second run off of Sarro who came in to pitch.

Morello singled to left to drive in the run, but would be out retreating on Penaloza’s fly ball to left.

With the Raiders road victory, they will host Serrano who knocked out Victor Valley in a 5-2 victory. That game will be played on Friday afternoon.

“It’s been a fight, and hopefully we can continue fighting,” Tellers said.

The Raiders carry 11 Seniors, and will look to the to carry the load as the season continues.

“We know that everyone’s in this together, but it’s their deal. They have no tomorrow,” Tellers said.

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