EC Preps




By Adam Paul

ORANGE – The Steele Canyon Cougars (11-4) made sure they took advantage of their opportunities and also made no mistakes late as they were able to hang on against the host EL Modena Vanguards (12-3) 28-26 to earn a berth in the CIF State Division 3-A next week against Half Moon Bay.

The Cougars attacked the Vanguards on all fronts as various Cougars scored in the game. Steele Canyon struck first as Thomas Maroki recovered a fumble for the Cougars and were able to go up 7-0 when Perry Steele found the house.

Following good field position following a short punt by the Cougars the Vanguards were able to put points on the board a few plays later when Andrew Carvajal scored with about 10:00 remaining in the second quarter. The PAT failed so it was 7-6 Cougars.

The running game of the Cougars took advantage of what they were given as Deontae MCKinney ran his way for a 13-yard scamper and score to make it 14-6.

On the defensive side for Steele Canyon, Darin Walton took advantage and used his speed to sack the quarterback twice which forced turnovers on downs and also finish the first half with six tackles.

Steele Canyon started things out in the second half on a three and out which opened the door for the Vanguards. Quarterback Andrew Carvajal used his legs to shuttle through the Cougars defense as he was able to pick up a first down when they were forced with a long fourth down situation. With about 6:20 left in the quarter, Carvajal found A.J. Esperanza for a touchdown to make it 14-12.

The two point conversion was unsuccessful.

Again the running game for the Cougars did the job as Kenneth Watson used his skills to push the pile for a couple of big gains which moved the ball down the field. With about :13 left in the third quarter Thomas Fishburne found Jordan Anderson for a 13 yard touchdown strike.

But the score didn’t deter El Modena as Carvajal and company moved the ball down the field as Esperanza zipped his way for 45 yards and another gain of 13 yards all the way to the three yard line to end the quarter.

The Vanguards would eventually score with a little over eleven minutes remaining in the contest on a score by Carvajal which was his third of the evening.

This didn’t deter the offense of the Cougars as they took it as a challenge to answer the scoring bell.

Now with the ball and a slim lead the Cougars made it their mission to answer and indeed they did.

Thomas Fishburne the always calm and cool leader took it into his hands and was able to scramble for a huge 22-yard gain and then found Randy Jordan who scampered his way down to the 10 yard line of El Modena for a gain of 29 yards.

The Cougars couldn’t punch it on the next three plays and found themselves facing a fourth down situation. So what do they do, the Cougars handed the ball off to Watson who rumbled his way and stiff armed a defender all the way to the house for the score with about 8:25 remaining in the game to make it 28-19.

Now it was the Vanguards turn with a crack. El Modena took advantage as they marched down the field and made things really interesting. The Vanguards were able to punch the ball into the end zone on a 16 yard score by Esperanza to pull within 28-26.

On the very next possession for the Steele Canyon they were able to move the ball down the field to the 23 of the vanguards but came away empty with 3:23 remaining in the game.

On El Mondeno’s next possession the Steele Canyon defense came up huge by making a stand and were able to reclaim the ball at the 33 yard line. Thomas Fishburne was able to do his thing and get a crucial first down which led to a clock run down and the victory.

On the night, Fishburne accounted for 218 yards of total offense including 75 of those yards coming in the second half.

With the historical win the Cougars will host the Division 3-A State Championship game next week on Saturday December 16th against Half Moon Bay at 6 pm at a site to be determined.



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