As the teams made their way to the locker rooms at halftime of Charter Oak’s 63-21 rout of Corona Santiago on Friday night, an excited Chargers player could be heard yelling, “They want no piece of Valley football.”
That statement should resonate with you, if you call yourself a San Gabriel Valley football fan.
There is no better stage than the playoffs for teams to represent their areas to the fullest. On Friday at Charter Oak, the Chargers represented the Valley to near perfection.
Charter Oak, the only team with a 626 area code in the Inland Division’s postseason field of 16, sent a resounding statement that although the Valley may be smaller and much different demographically than areas to the east, it still can play the game of football pretty darn well on occasion.
“Frankly, their guys during warmups said all they were going to do was intimidate us,” Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar said. “You can’t intimidate me while you’re standing around exercising. Our kids are trying to believe in themselves and make believers out of everybody else.
“You can only put 11 people on the field. We’re just trying to get some respect, I guess.”
Corona Santiago certainly was intimidating during warmups. It had what looked like double the roster size of Charter Oak and considerably more size along the offensive line. But once the ball was kicked off, the only team doing the intimidating was the Chargers.
Less than two minutes into the game, Charter Oak’s all-everything quarterback Travis Santiago hooked up with receiver Aaren Vaughns for a 61-yard touchdown pass. Santiago later found receiver Bryce Bobo three times for touchdowns.
Safety Jonathan Thropay returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown. Kurt Scoby ran so hard over Santiago defenders in the second half the popping sound made the crowd ooh and ahh.
How’s that for intimidation?
What happened on Friday at Charter Oak was a crescendo moment. A program that enrollment-wise doesn’t belong in the Inland Division wanted to send a message with its first Inland Division playoff win.
The message was sent loud and clear. The Chargers led by nearly 50 points at one point and that was before the fourth quarter.
Once the fourth quarter started, the running clock rule for blowouts of 35 or more points was implemented. Who’d have thunk it?
“It is kind of special because we’re the same Royal Oak/Charter Oak guys standing around playing football and just playing the with guys who show up at practice,” Farrar said. “This doesn’t happen overnight. This is a lot of weight room (work), exercising and training. It started two weeks after the season was over last year.”
Farrar has won five CIF championships, but even he admitted Friday’s win holds a special place. The little program he has built into an area powerhouse was given a tall task by the CIF two years ago after it was taken out of the Southeast Division and placed in the Inland.
Corona Santiago had the right idea before Friday’s game. Intimidate the smaller school. Let them know the 909 (or 951) had come to town and it’s a much different animal when your school attendance is pushing 4,000 kids. Intimidation truly was Corona Santiago’s only card to play.
The only problem was Charter Oak wasn’t buying it. Not after Farrar, his coaching staff and their players already had gone through the nightmare last year.
Now, Charter Oak is one of the final eight teams remaining in the division. They Chargers still are the smallest and the biggest underdogs. No matter what happens next week against Upland, Charter Oak has proven its point. It did so over and over again this season, starting with a 4-1 nonleague record, 5-0 Sierra League mark and now one of the most lopsided wins anywhere in the Southland in the playoffs.
They won’t hang a banner at Charter Oak for Friday’s win and Farrar won’t add more hardware to his sizable collection. But everyone who was in attendance when the Chargers broke through for their first Inland Division playoff win will go home with the memory that at least for one night an Inland team wanted no piece of Valley football.
Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT