Alvarado leads Carp past Cards, into CIF

Justin Alvarado and the Warriors celebrate on the field with other students. (Presidio Sports Photos)

When a starting quarterback gets injured in the first quarter of a homecoming game against an archrival with postseason opportunities hanging in the balance, most football teams would immediately reach for the panic button.

Carpinteria High doesn’t need such a device. It has Justin Alvarado.

The senior wide receiver/running back earned the right to add quarterback to his resume Friday as he rushed for 100 yards and two second-half touchdowns to lead the Warriors to a 35-14 Tri-Valley League victory over archrival Bishop Diego at Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium.

The victory, coupled with Oak Park’s loss to Nordhoff, qualifies Carpinteria (4-5, 2-2) for CIF playoff action.

“I’ve been in this situation before,” said Alvarado, who deftly engineered extended drives in the second half to ensure the victory. “Against Grace Brethren, (quarterback R.J. Rosborough) got hurt, and they put me in at quarterback. Tonight, I knew I had to step up even more because this was The Big Game.”

Alvarado’s efforts earned him the American G.I. Forum Outstanding Player of the Game Award, which is a trophy bestowed upon the top player of the winning team during the teams’ annual “Big Game.”

Rosborough completed a pass on the final play of the first quarter but was injured on the play. Carpinteria coach John Hazelton said the situation gave his team another opportunity to react and adapt, which the Warriors have become accustomed to doing throughout their tumultuous season.

“It’s interesting how the adversities you go through during a season – the ups and downs – prepare you for a game near the end of the year against your rival,” Hazelton said. “We lose our quarterback, but we have a guy who can step into the position because he had to do it before.

“This happened to us five or six weeks ago, but we lost the game because we didn’t know how to finish. This time, we knew how to finish.”

With Alvarado inserted at quarterback, the Warriors seemingly didn’t miss a beat. They scored on the first play of the second quarter with a 5-yard run by Ivan Millhollin to tie the game at 7-7.

Carpinteria (4-5, 2-2) grabbed the lead late in the second quarter with help from tailback Ryan Caudillo. The junior carried the ball off left tackle on five successive plays during a 54-yard drive. The final in his string of rushes was a 1-yard touchdown plunge that gave the Warriors a 14-7 lead with 1:12 left in the half.

But Bishop Diego (1-8, 0-4) wouldn’t go away quietly. Big plays through the air and on special teams helped the Cardinals corral the momentum going into halftime.

Bishop Diego quarterback Shane McCarthy connected with wide receiver A.J. Fling on both of his first-half touchdowns. The latter came near the end of the second quarter as Desmond Vanderfin returned a kickoff 53 yards to Carpinteria’s 32-yard line with 59 seconds left in the half.

Four plays later, McCarthy hit Fling on a 37-yard scoring strike to tie the game with 22 seconds remaining. The Cardinals took the momentum into halftime but couldn’t capitalize in the third quarter.

“It was an uplifting way to finish the half, but in the third quarter, Carpinteria was very efficient with their plays, and they played very physical,” said Cardinals coach Tom Crawford. “We had some miscues on offense and didn’t execute when we needed to.”

The Warriors dominated the second half with 11 first downs compared with Bishop Diego’s three. The Cardinals were allowed only three offensive plays in the third quarter and compiled just 60 yards during the half. Carpinteria managed the clock well and converted third-down and fourth-down opportunities with a potent ground attack.

With the game tied 14-14, the Warriors started the third quarter with a 16-play, 69-yard drive that chewed up nearly 8 minutes of play. Alvarado capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. Damian Acevedo added one of his five successful extra points to give Carpinteria a 21-14 lead.

The Warriors’ defense promptly forced a three-and-out, and a 24-yard Cardinals punt gave Carpinteria’s offense the ball on Bishop Diego’s 48-yard line. Caudillo and Alvarado each busted through the line for impressive runs on the drive, which featured just seven plays and ended on a 6-yard touchdown run by Alvarado.

An interception by Eddie Sanchez helped Carpinteria seal the victory. His 34-yard interception return placed the Warriors on Bishop Diego’s 16-yard line. Caudillo promptly scurried in for a touchdown on the next play.

“Caudillo is a fine young talent who has improved each week,” Hazelton said. Caudillo finished with a game-high 112 yards on 19 carries.

Hazelton added that his 21-member squad has grown substantially this season, emotionally, while dealing with adversities.

“It would be fun one year to go undefeated and not deal with these things,” he quipped, “but these odd losses and our patchwork (methods) have given these kids the belief that they can do it. We could have folded after (a blowout loss to Oaks Christian), but our kids believe.”

(Photos taken by John Dvorak/PresidioPics)


Bishop Diego    7    7    0    0—14

Carpinteria    0    14    7    14—35

First Quarter

BD — Fling 8 pass from McCarthy (Verhasselt kick), 4:56.

Second Quarter

C — Milhollin 5 run (Acevedo kick), 11:56.

C — Caudillo 1 run (Acevedo kick), 1:12.

BD — Fling 37 pass from McCarthy (Verhasselt kick), 0:22.

Third Quarter

C — Alvarado 2 run (Acevedo kick), 4:03.

Fourth Quarter

C — Alvarado 6 run (Acevedo kick), 10:12.

C — Caudillo 16 run (Acevedo kick), 3:12.

TEAM STATISTICS    BD            C

First downs                10            20

Rushes-yards        28-88        44-266

Passing yards           99               51

Comp-Att-Int       6-17-1    4-13-1

Sacks-yards lost    1-6            1-3

Punts-avg.             3-24.3    1-37.0

Fumbles-lost             3-0       1-0

Penalties-yards         3-15    6-66


RUSHING — Bishop Diego: Escamilla 11-36, McCarthy 8-29, Gonzalez 6-12, Bortolazzo 2-7, Vanderfin 1-4. Carpinteria: Caudillo 19-112, Alvarado 17-100, Milhollin 6-39, Rosborough 2-15.

PASSING — Bishop Diego: McCarthy 6-17-1-99. Carpinteria: Rosborough 2-2-0-29, Alvarado 2-11-1-22.

RECEIVING — Bishop Diego: Fling 2-45, Gonzalez 2-20, Vanerfin 1-16, Escamilla 1-13, Garcia 1-5. Carpinteria: Sanchez 2-24, Caudillo 1-17, Alvarado 1-10.


TEAM RECORDS — Bishop Diego 1-8, 0-4; Carpinteria 4-5, 2-2.