There were tears and hugs last week at Hodges Stadium.
The Citrus Valley High football team fell to Chaminade of West Hills 38-28 and the Blackhawk seniors hurt afterward. Finally, Blackhawk coach Kurt Bruich rounded up the 12th-graders and poignantly had them march arm-in-arm off the field.
The CIF-Southern Section Division 2 quarterfinal loss ended Citrus Valley's season.
“Obviously, we were a little overmatched physically, but we hung in there,” Bruich said. “We caused turnovers. We did everything you need to do to win, but they’re just a really good football team and we didn’t have enough left in the second half.”
A 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback Hunter Herrera (230 yards passing, 41 rushing) on Citrus Valley’s first possession of the second half gave the Blackhawks (9-3) a 28-24 lead. But it was short-lived.
Chaminade (10-2), moving exclusively on the ground in its hurry-up offense, drove 74 yards in seven plays to score on Logan Carpenter’s 19-yard run. The Eagles had regained the lead, 31-28.
Chaminade’s huge offensive line which featured the likes of David Abajian (6-5, 270), Aitor Urionabarrenechea (6-5, 315), Isaiah Estrada (6-2, 290), and Michael Villagomez (6-0, 250), dominated in the second half.
The Eagle front continued to bore holes in the Blackhawk defense on Chaminade’s next possession until Citrus Valley’s Jerry Gonzalez recovered a fumble on the Blackhawk 14.
Then Chaminade’s defense stepped to the fore as Marquis Gallegos intercepted a Herrera pass and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown.
That put the Eagles up by 10 with 1:30 left in the third quarter and Citrus Valley never came close to scoring after that.
The Chaminade ground game was overpowering.
The Eagles rolled up 375 rushing yards, led by Carpenter with 130 yards and two touchdowns and Jaelon Barbarin with 186 yards and two scores.
Quarterback Javance Tupouata-Johnson chipped in with eight carries for 59 yards.
Bruich was not crestfallen after the game.
“It was a great season,” he said. “We got the Cajon monkey off our back and won nine games.
“What else can you say? We had a great group of kids and a great season and to wind up in Division 2 with all these Mission League teams is an honor. It’s one of the toughest brackets in California.”
Chaminade finished in a three-way tie for second place in the rugged Mission League, one game behind league champion Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth.
The teams were tied 7-7 in the first quarter when Tupouata-Johnson connected with Kwazi Gilmer on a 46-yard pass. That led to Barbarin’s 4-yard TD run. The Eagles led 14-7 heading into the second quarter.
A 14-play, 70-yard drive put Chaminade up 21-7 with 4:41 left in the first half, as Barbarin scored from 2 yards.
The two-score lead didn’t last long. Citrus Valley’s Brock Lium took the ensuing kickoff and bolted 92 yards for a score to move the Blackhawks to within 21-14.
Lium also intercepted a pass on Chaminade’s next possession.
Herrera heated up on Citrus Valley’s next possession, completing five passes on a smart, 68-yard drive, culminated by Herrera’s 11-yard TD toss to Lium to tie the game at 21 with 1:05 left in the half. Lium had four catches overall for 79 yards.
Chaminade took a 24-21 lead heading into the half on a 49-yard field goal by Ryon Sayen.
It was an interesting and mostly satisfying season for Citrus Valley.