Tehachapi at Sunnyside (Fresno)

November 26, 2010

Sunnyside High's Patrick Johnson, left, is met by a wall of Tehachapi defenders in the first half
on Friday night. The Warriors upset the Wildcats, 28-7, to advance in the valley playoffs.
Photo by Craig Kohlruss, The Fresno Bee.

Quarterfinal Shocker!
Warriors Upset #3 Sunnyside, 28-7

Posted November 29, 2010, by Tom Shea, The Tehachapi News

The upset special in last Friday night's playoffs belonged to Mountain Football.

Utilizing a methodical running attack and an opportunistic defense, the no.6 seeded Warriors went up to Fresno and shocked no.3 seed Sunnyside 28-7.

With the win, the Warriors clinched a berth in the Division II semifinals.

"Sunnyside was a good football team with a lot of talent," said head coach Steve Denman. "We feel fortunate to get out of here with a win. We're proud of our kids. They stepped up and played hard."

Tehachapi (11-1) got a pair of book-end touchdowns on the evening from Marcus Curiel, who scored on a one-yard touchdown run on Tehachapi's second possession of the first half, and then again on a two-yard touchdown plunge in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Curiel had 57 yards in 16 attempts including the two scores.

"We wanted to make a statement coming out and playing Division II," said runningback Jorge Garcia. "It feels good. Coming in as the underdog, it gets everyone pumped up and more excited to win. We came out and played hard."

Garcia also a key 66-yard touchdown run with just under three minutes left in the third quarter, giving Tehachapi a 21-7 lead. Garcia finished the night with 94 yards on eight carries.

"I was just thinking follow my blockers and just get to the endzone," said Garcia. "We wanted to put this game away. Get them on the ropes and just put it away."

The upset was also aided by a sloppy Sunnyside (8-4) team that had five turnovers in the game, with Ray Cross, Cory Lange, Zach Timm and Brian Mathews recovering fumbles and Adam Bullard an interception for the Tehachapi defense.

"The linebackers stepped up for us and covered the flats and the (defensive backs) didn't want to get beat deep," said defensive standout Michael Lowder. "We played our zones well and our ends stepped up and sacked the quarterback if he tried to run."

The Warriors also had the big play of the night, carrying momentum into the locker room with some offensive trickery.

Right before halftime, with the game tied 7-7, the Warriors orchestrated a deception play at their own 30-yard line, with backup quarterback Bobby Howell taking the snap and finding Cory Lange on one-on-one coverage deep down the left sideline. The end result was a 70-yard touchdown catch for Lange, putting the Warriors up 14-7 going into the locker room.

"This means a lot, we just beat the biggest school in Division II (3,500 students)," added Lowder. "They had a lot of speed and they had their best players in all game. Fortunately we came out on top."

The Warriors were led in the ground game by Phil Rhodes, who had 106 yards on 17 carries, helping the Warriors to 401 yards of total offense.

Up next for Mountain Football is a rematch to their only blemish on the season against the Garces Rams in the Division II semifinals.

"We're looking forward to the game, it should be exciting for everyone," added Denman. "They are a very good football team and we'll need to be ready for the challenge."

Garces (10-1), the no.2 seed, defeated no.7 seed Clovis North 34-21 in another quarterfinal game. The semifinals will be at Garces High School in Bakersfield this Friday night at 7 p.m.

CIF Central Section Division II Playoff Scores

(9) Lemoore 35, (1) Frontier 28
(5) Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial 21, (4) Visalia-Redwood 20
(6) Tehachapi 28, (3) Fresno-Sunnyside 7
(2) Bakersfield-Garces Memorial 34, (7) Clovis North 21

CIF Central Section Division II Semifinals (This Friday)

(6) Tehachapi (11-1) at (2) Bakersfield-Garces Memorial (10-1)
(9) Lemoore (8-4) at (5) Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial (9-3)

Warrior running back Phil Rhodes eludes a defender in the secondary en route to this first
half 24-yard run. Rhodes finished the night with 106 yards on 17 carries, helping Tehachapi to
401 yards of offense overall. Photo by Michael Duffy, The Tehachapi News.

Warriors Upset Sunnyside, 28-7

Posted November 27, 2010, by Andrew Rich, The Fresno Bee

FRESNO -- Tehachapi High showed Sunnyside on Friday night what football playoff experience means.

The Warriors, seeded sixth in the Central Section Division II playoffs, pounded away at the No. 3 Wildcats all night long with their powerful running backs and ran away with a 28-7 quarterfinal victory.

"That is a great team that knows how to win in November," said first-year Sunnyside coach Justin Garza. "Coach (Steve) Denman runs a top-notch progam over there."

Tehachapi, the Division III winner in 2007 and 2008 and a semifinalist last season, moved up to Division II this season.

That meant the Warriors (11-1) had to take on bigger schools like Sunnyside (8-4), which has about double Tehachapi's enrollment.

But Tehachapi pulled away behind its powerful, time-consuming offense and Sunnyside mistakes.

Sunnyside's Jerrold Tanner lost three fumbles. The first, recovered by Cory Lange, gave the Warriors possession on the Sunnyside 28. A fourth-down pass interference penalty against the Wildcats kept the drive alive and Marcus Curiel scored on a 1-yard run.

By the end of the quarter, Tehachapi had 21 plays to Sunnyside's three, and the Warriors had possession for all but 52 seconds in the period.

Sunnyside tied it with 1:22 left in the half when Andy Phimmavong hit Kevin Robinson on a slant and Robinson ran by the Warrior defense for a 36-yard TD.

But the Warriors quickly got the momentum back.

Tehachapi ran a toss play to sophomore backup quarterback Bobby Howell, who launched a 70-yard TD pass to Lange for a 14-7 halftime lead.

"We wanted to take one more shot," Denman said. "We knew how explosive and talented they were. We just needed to get more points."

"Our kids knew it was coming, we just didn't make the play," Garza said.

Tehachapi made it 21-7 with 2:56 left in the third quarter on a 66-yard sweep for a touchdown by Jorge Garcia.

Sunnyside then drove back into Warrior territory only to have another drive end with a turnover, this time an interception by Adam Bullard.

Tanner lost his third fumble early in the fourth quarter. The Warriors took over at the Wildcats 45. Curiel scored six plays later on a 2-yard run to put the game away.

"We were fortunate to hold on to the ball all night long, turnovers were the difference in the game tonight," Denman said.

Defensive standout Adam Bullard #11 brings down a Sunnyside ball carrier Friday night in Fresno.
Bullard also had a key interception in the game. Photo by Craig Kohlruss, The Fresno Bee.

1st2nd3rd 4thFinal
Tehachapi   7  7   7  7 28
Sunnyside  0  7   0  0 07

The Scoring:

1st Quarter:

Teh -- Curiel 1 yard run (Farewell kick)

2nd Quarter:

Sun -- Robinson 35 yard pass from Phimmavong (Enciso kick)
Teh -- Lange 70 yard pass from Howell (Farewell kick)

3rd Quarter:

Teh -- Curiel 2 yard run (Farewell kick)

4th Quarter:

Teh -- Garcia 66 yard run (Farewell kick)


First Downs187
Passing Yards8376
Total Yards401183
PuntsN/A N/A

Individual Statistics:

RUSHING: Tehachapi: Rhodes 17-106, Garcia 8-94, Curiel 16-57, Lowder 8-46; Lange 1-9, Timm 1-6, Garrett 2-0;
Sunnyside: Tanner 14-63, Phimmavong 9-47

PASSING: Tehachapi: Garrett 1-8-0-13, Howell 1-1-0-70; Sunnyside: Phimmavong 6-16-1-73

RECEIVING: Tehachapi: Lange 1-70, Farewell 1-13; Sunnyside: Robinson 3-50, Dixon 3-21, Tanner 1-5

Varsity Tehachapi 11-1, Sunnyside 8-4