Warriors edged by Santa Clara, 14-13

OXNARD – It wasn’t looking so good for Carpinteria three weeks ago.

The Warrior football team was down to 21 active players and had endured four consecutive losses, albeit the last one was against Oaks Christian. The team was at 2-5 and winless in the Tri-Valley League.

On an eerily warm and blustery field at Hueneme High School on Friday night, that group of 21 kids was a two-point conversion away from beating the defending CIF champions and taking second place in the conference.

The Warriors — who were without the services of star quarterback R.J. Rosborough — lost a hard-nosed clash with Santa Clara 14-13, but are still headed to the playoffs after posting clutch wins over Nordhoff and Bishop Diego down the home stretch of the season.

“It’s them,” said coach John Hazelton, pointing to his players after the game. “We coach the same way every week and every year. It’s just that this group of kids has a lot of character.”

Santa Clara was also without its best player, Notre Dame-bound running back Cierre Wood, but still had plenty of size and depth over the visitors.

Do-it-all standout Justin Alvarado found Tony Sanchez on a 5-yard shovel pass for a touchdown at the 3:31 mark to pull it to 14-13, and the Warriors decided to go for the lead on a two-point conversion. A handoff up the middle was stopped and subsequently fumbled, but the Warrior defense responded by forcing a Santa Clara punt at the two-minute mark.

The stalled drive was the result of a big hit by Nick Razo and a delay-of-game penalty on the next play by the Saints. A nice punt left Carpinteria on its own 7-yard line with 1:44, but the makeshift Rosborough-less offense couldn’t come up with a final big play to get within field goal range.

“We’re 21 guys and we just didn’t want to get into an overtime with a group way bigger than us,” said Hazelton of the 2-point try.

Alvarado finished with 136 yards of offense combined on the ground and through the air, while Sanchez caught four passes for 46 yards and the score. Running back Ryan Caudillo scored the other Warrior touchdown on a two-yard plunge, and wound up with 75 yards on 13 carries.

Sanchez was not surprised at all by the game’s close outcome despite Santa Clara coming into the contest with only one loss — to Oaks Christian. He also didn’t seem surprised that the Warriors had regrouped to make the playoffs.

“Carp has always had the smallest kids, since I was little,” he said. “But we’re usually fast and have a lot of heart. We love to hit.”

Junior lineman Isaiah Chavez wore his heart on his jersey-sleeve the whole game, most noticeably with 1:30 left in the first half. The Saints were trying to keep a drive alive on a 3rd-and-7 situation, and Chavez started running around the sidelines and facing the crowd while howling like a wolf in order to pick up the energy.

Carpinteria (4-6, 2-3 TVL) stopped the Saints (9-1, 5-1) and forced a punt.

Hazelton was no cool customer himself. He spent most of the fourth quarter in the air, hopping around like a kangaroo in khakis.

The band of 21 will now march into the playoffs and no doubt face a big opponent in the first round. That opponent better not take anything for granted.


Carpinteria…7  0  0  6 — 13

Santa Clara…7  0  0  7 — 14

First Quarter

SC — Hull 3 run (Werre kick), 5:00

C — Caudillo 2 run (Acevedo kick), 1:55

Fourth Quarter

SC — Torres 3 run, (Werre kick), 9:23

C — Sanchez 5 pass from Alvarado (Conv. failed), 3:31

TEAM STATISTICS         C                SC

First Downs                   12                12

Rushes-Yards            29-165         38-173

Passing Yards               67                  46

Comp-Att-Int           8-16-0         4-7-46

Penalties-Yards           2-15            9-65


RUSHING — C: Caudillo 13-75, Milhollin 4-18, Alvarado 11-69, Razo 1-3. SC: Laubacher 4-1, Hull 12-67, Cabral 5-29, Torres 10-57, Nelson 1-1, Bradley 6-18.

PASSING — C: Alvarado 8-16-0-67. SC: Laubacher 4-7-0-46.

RECEIVING — C: Sanchez 4-46, Milhollin 1-18, Caudillo 2-3. SC: Hull 1-8, Gleason 2-31, Bradley 1-7.


TEAM RECORDS — C 4-6, 2-3; SC 9-1, 4-1.