“We were a decent team. They were just a bit better and played harder. It doesn’t always go the way it’s supposed to.” West Covina linebacker Justin Hornsby on playing for Southern California. Hornsby (below) returned after sitting out the second half of the Bulldogs’ season after suffering a broken leg in a September victory over South Hills.
By Louis Brewster, staff writer
Perhaps the Southern California team in the Canyon-Coast Classic all-star football game was thrown off stride by Monday’s sunshine that turned a January day into one better suited for April.
Or maybe it was the Arizona team that made key plays and not quite as many mistakes in posting a 26-6 victory in front of 2,600 at Riverside City College.
“They have a very legit team,” Kaiser High School’s Anthony Saenz said of the Arizona squad. “They had a lot of talent. We made some mistakes on offense and defense and that’s what happens.”
The visitors converted an interception for a go-ahead touchdown midway through the second quarter before putting together a quick 58-yard drive in 19 seconds before intermission for a commanding 17-3 advantage.
But Southern California showed some signs of life by driving 57 yards in the final 39 seconds. Charter Oak’s Jack Schneider capped the drive by kicking a 24-yard field goal, his second of the half.
In the end, Southern California had little to show for its offense with the exception of turnovers and mistakes. That included a safety in the third quarter when Chris Stratton stepped out of the end zone on a reverse from the 3-yard line, an interception in the end zone and a fumble that ended its most sustained drive.
“We just didn’t do anything on offense,” said Southern California coach Dick Bruich, who came out of retirement for the game. “But you can’t blame any one phase.”
“We had mistakes on both sides of the ball.”
The longest play of the day for Southern California was a 40-yard pass from Mike Darr of Corona Santiago to Charter Oak’s Bryce Bobo.
Bruich, however, was all smiles after the game. It was because he got to coach grandson Blake Braun in his final high school game. And if that wasn’t quite enough, son Kurt (Braun’s coach at Redlands East Valley) also was on his coaching staff.
“It was awesome,” said Braun, who stopped a late Arizona drive by forcing a fumble at the Southern California 5-yard line. “It was the experience of a lifetime.
“We all had fun.”
That was the elder Bruich’s biggest concern.
“The kids had a good time, in three days we became a team,” he said. “It was fun for the kids, they played with one another against each other.
“That was key to me.”
Saenz said the team practiced six times, but just smiled when asked if the practices had the same intensity as those at Kaiser.
Justin Hornsby, a linebacker from West Covina, said Southern California was prepared to play.
“We were a decent team,” Hornsby said. “They were just a bit better and played harder. It doesn’t always go the way it’s supposed to.”
Arizona’s A.J. Thigpen scored two touchdowns on 1-yard runs and Tyler Rogers threw a 3-yard scoring pass to Kani Benoit on the possession following the safety.