Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar and South Hills’ Steve Bogan talk about Friday’s near disasters…
“Anytime you overcome adversity successfully it builds depth and adds a component of confidence that you know how to find a way to win,” Bogan said. “When I was (a player) at Cal Lutheran, there was an expectation that you were going to win even when you were down, because that’s what you do. You can’t talk that into someone; that’s experience that builds on you.” — Steve Bogan
By Fred J. Robledo
Bishop Amat’s last-minute 28-21 victory over Mater Dei in the CIF-Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoff opener was the game of the night Friday, but Charter Oak and South Hills, the top two teams in the Southeast Division, played perhaps the best games of survive and advance. Charter Oak hung on to defeat Muir 20-19 after nearly blowing a 20-0 lead in the fourth quarter and survived a do-or-die two-point conversion attempt by the 4-7 Mustangs.
South Hills raced to a 21-0 lead against Bonita (3-8), but needed Jamel Hart’s 15-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to squeeze out a 28-21 win after the Bearcats rallied to tie the score in the third quarter.
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“We were on the bus home when someone said Muir had a chance to win going for two,” South Hills coach Steve Bogan said. “I’m going, `Whoa.’ You just never know. That’s football, you just never know.”
Charter Oak (10-1), the defending champion, is 23-1-1 over the past two years and entered the playoffs by outscoring its Miramonte League foes 123-0.
South Hills (9-2) almost was as dominating down the stretch in winning the San Antonio League by a 23-point margin mostly because of its defense.
How did both teams, with arguably two of the best defenses in the Valley and a lot of pre-playoff swagger, come within minutes of missing Thanksgiving practice?
“Teams played inspired football this time of year,” Bogan said. “When you see a team come back on you, you can grit your teeth and say how much you want it but that won’t change a thing.
“You have to make great plays with great effort, and if you’re the better team you will turn it around. You just don’t want to hit the panic button. You have to stay in control and fight your way out of it.”
Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar described Friday’s near-disaster like a rope slipping through your hands and trying to hang on for dear life.
The Chargers led 20-0 with 8:27 left when the dominoes started to fall.
The Mustangs scored the potential game-tying touchdown on quarterback Jarron Williams’ 30-yard touchdown pass to Ormoni Duncan with four seconds remaining to make it 20-19.
“I don’t know if we were too relaxed or what, but you see it in the NFL on Sunday’s. You’re moving along and then on one play, the momentum just shifts and its hard to get back,” Farrar said. “You feel that rope slipping and it’s kind of out of your control. You’re squeezing and squeezing but it keeps slipping and slipping. That’s what it felt like.”
Farrar said he was not surprised by Muir’s decision to go for the win instead of the extra point and had a feeling Williams would try to make a play. He was right and Chargers lineman Keith Smith stopped him on a draw play.
“We kind of figured they wanted to settle it then and there,” Farrar said. “It was nerve-racking. After they scored and called a timeout, you could see it on our kids faces, they were down, down, down.
“When they were setting up for the final play I looked at Keith and said, `Don’t take your eyes off him (Williams), he’s going to try and make a play.’ He (Smith) didn’t just stuff him, he cracked him. He was moving faster than the quarterback was coming, it was an incredible goal-line stop.”
Farrar wouldn’t describe it as a wake-up call but he did say the coaching staff had a long weekend.
“We watched film on Saturday and were the most miserable 10-1 coaching staff in the Valley,” Farrar said. “We have such high expectations for our kids. It wasn’t their best game or our best job of coaching.
“But that’s what the playoffs are all about. You never know how a team is going to rise or react. Muir is a heck of a football team. It’s one thing to prepare for them, but their speed and how hard they hit is something you can’t measure watching on tape.”
The Chargers will be on the road in Friday’s quarterfinals against West Covina (7-4). They know the Bulldogs will be hungry after the Chargers beat them twice two years ago, which included a playoff win.
“People are going to say, `Hey, Charter Oak got its wake-up call,’ ” Farrar said. “It’s not like that. There are turning points in games, but you can’t turn momentum off and on like a switch in the playoffs.
“What you have to do is emphasize to your team to never let up. Maybe that’s what we were guilty of (against Muir). When you have a team down like that, you have to finish them.”
South Hills’ close call could be attributed to not having quarterback Jacob Shirley, who sat out with a sprained knee ligament but is likely to start on Friday when the Huskies meet Crescenta Valley (8-3) in their quarterfinal at Glendale High School.
In the long run, Bogan said Charter Oak and South Hills might benefit from having to scratch their way out of danger.
“Anytime you overcome adversity successfully it builds depth and adds a component of confidence that you know how to find a way to win,” Bogan said. “When I was (a player) at Cal Lutheran, there was an expectation that you were going to win even when you were down, because that’s what you do. You can’t talk that into someone; that’s experience that builds on you.”
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