Hazelton’s Warriors show guts but go down

COMPTON — The guys doing the chains said it all.

“Man, you gotta give these guys credit. They play with heart man,” said one to the other just before Verbum Dei took a knee and finished up a 31-21 victory over the Carpinteria Warriors in the first round of the CIF playoffs Friday night.

“I told my kids that them dudes were going to play disciplined and fundamentally sound, and I give them a bunch of credit. They played real hard,” said Eagles coach Rico Martin.

The Warriors indeed played their hearts out — just the way John Hazelton wanted them to in his last game as head coach.

“Our kids taught themselves how to play to the finish off games, and how to just believe in themselves. They played with a real ferocity, and it’s something they should be proud of,” said Hazelton.

The coach kept it classy when asked about a disastrous blown call on the fifth play of the game that could have been the difference in the contest.

The Warriors (4-7) were running a triple-option veer offense which involves a multitude of pitches and fake hand-offs. On the Warriors’ opening drive, quarterback Justin Alvarado faked a hand-off up the middle and broke to the outside, where he had an open lane to the end zone for a long score.

The fake was too good.

The referee blew the play dead, thinking that the hand-off had been made and killing the play before Alvarado could finish it and put the Warriors up early.

It was just another robbery in South Central Los Angeles.

Hazelton said he had discussed the Warrior offense with the officials before the game to make them aware of the amount of fakes that would be executed. The discussion apparently didn’t stick with the zebras.

The Warrior coach could have blasted the call after the game, but took the high road.

“I’m not going to criticize anyone outside of just stating the facts,” said Hazelton.

A bad snap on the ensuing Carpinteria punt gave the Eagles (6-4) the ball on the Warrior 30, but Michael Ramirez laid a huge hit for a loss on a 4th-and-1 in the red zone to keep the game scoreless.

The Verbum Dei passing attack soon found a rhythm, however, and got the Eagles on the board when Omar Herrera found Fredrick Edison on a 16-yard lob with 1:48 left in the period. Herrera hit the jackpot again with 4:03 left in the half, finding Joel Berry for a 35-yard touchdown. The conversion failed anf the Eagles had a 13-0 lead.

The Warriors needed to get some points on the board, and it looked like they would when a 30-yard field goal attempt sailed through the uprights with 17 ticks left before the half. A flag went up, however, and Verbum Dei was called for roughing the kicker.

The Warriors capitalized when Alvarado got the ball to Ivan Milhollin at the front pylon for a 6-yard touchdown with just two seconds remaining that made the score 13-7 at the break.

When discussing the season as a whole after the game, a somber Ramirez said “we went through a lot but we bounced back and made the playoffs.”

Carpinteria bounced back in the game as well, taking the lead on a slash-and-dash 29-yard touchdown run by Alvarado midway through the third quarter to put the Warriors up 14-13.

The big plays kept coming for Verbum Dei, however, and the Eagles took the lead back with three minutes to go in the third on a 30-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Darryl Williams, going back up 19-14. Berry caught a 30-yarder for a touchdown early in the fourth and Angelo Marlbrough broke a 57-yarder with 6:15 on the clock that put the Eagles up 31-14.

Milhollin scored on a one-yard plunge with two minutes remaining to end the night’s scoring. Hazelton and offensive coordinator Ben Hallock were still screaming at their players that the game was not over with less than a minute remaining.

That’s the kind of attitude that gets you to the playoffs with only 21 guys suiting up for most of the year.

“It’s certainly been a challenge to uphold the strong tradition at Carpinteria, but it’s also been a pleasure to coach a bunch of willing, happy and hard-working kids,” said Hazelton. “This group met every expectation every step of the way, and the future’s very bright for the program.”

Hazelton is always eager to praise hard work, and Milhollin sent some praise right back to his coach.

“I don’t think there’s a coach that’s more into the players than that guy. He cares so much about us and about the program, and we’ve been lucky to have him as a coach,” he said.

VERBUM DEI 31, CARPINTERIA 21

Carpinteria….0  7  7  7 — 21

Verbum Dei…7  6  6  12 — 31

First Quarter

VD—Edison 16 pass from Herrera, (PAT good), 1:48

Second Quarter

VD—Berry 35 pass from Herrera, (conv. failed), 4:03

C—Milhollin 6 pass from Alvarado, (#44 kick), 0:02

Third Quarter

C—Alvarado 29 run (#44 kick), 8:35

VD—Williams 30 pass from Herrera, (conv. failed), 2:52

Fourth Quarter

VD—Berry 30 pass from Herrera, (conv. failed), 9:50

VD—Marlbrough 57 run, (conv. failed), 6:15

C—Milhollin 1 run (#44 kick), 2:00

TEAM STATISTICS          C                VD

First Downs                     11               22

Rushes-Yards               31-152       43-245

Passing Yards                  70               233

Total Yards                    222               478

Comp-Att-Int             5-19-1        11-17-1

Fumbles-Lost                0-0               2-1

Penalties-Yards            4-35            12-69

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

PASSING—C: Alvarado 4-17-1-54, #3 1-2-0-16. VD: Herrera 11-17-1-233.

RUSHING—C: Alvarado 8-67, Caudillo 8-10, Milhollin 11-52, Razo 4-23. VD: Nash 11-49, McKnight 18-73, Prince 2-5, Marlbrough 12-118.

RECEIVING—C: Sanchez 1-15, Milhollin 1-6, Razo 1-17, Coleman 1-16, #6 1-16. VD: Prince 3-46, Edison 3-31, Berry 3-101, Williams 2-55.

MISSED FG—None.

TEAM RECORDS—C 4-7, VD 6-5.

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