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Prep football: A hello and goodbye

West Ranch football enters the postseason for the first time ever, but can’t keep up with Palos Verd

Posted: November 19, 2010 11:22 p.m.
Updated: November 19, 2010 11:22 p.m.

REDONDO BEACH — The years of waiting are over.

And while the result wasn’t quite what the West Ranch football team was hoping for in its first trip to the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs, it got something else.

A starting point.

Overpowered up front, the Wildcats couldn’t stop Palos Verdes running back Marc Sasso in a 48-10 first-round loss Friday at Redondo Union High School.

“It’s an introduction to a level of football we are looking to play at,” said West Ranch head coach Sean O’Brien. “You have to be in it and experience it. And our program’s done that.”

The Wildcats (6-5) nearly made the playoffs last season, but missed out after losing a coin flip for the final postseason spot.
This year, they took third place in the Foothill League outright for the first time in program history.

But Sasso’s effort made the playoff stay a short one.

The senior carried the ball 18 times for 260 yards and three touchdowns for the Sea Kings (10-1), including scores from 2 and 19 yards that built a 14-0 lead.

“When you run the ball in chunks, it opens up the play action,” said Palos Verdes head coach Guy Gardner. “You aren’t going to believe this, but in practice this week, we worked on throwing the football.”

The ground game did open up the Sea Kings’ passing game, and quarterback Zach Fixen threw a 37-yard score to Dean Alessi and a 15-yard touchdown to Tommy O’Hearn for a 28-3 lead.

The scores were split up by West Ranch kicker Brady Stuart’s 35-yard field goal.

Just before halftime, Wildcats quarterback Conner Eichten was intercepted by Zach Henkhaus, who returned the ball 30 yards for a touchdown and a 35-3 lead.

Eichten finished 13-of-26 for 206 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown.

After Sasso’s 2-yard score, and a 45-yard touchdown by Carl Aguirre, the Sea Kings held a 48-3 lead early in the third quarter after a missed point-after attempt.

But West Ranch responded as Eichten found Josh Guzman, who had out-sprinted two defenders, for a 52-yard touchdown.
“Everyone just banded together,” Guzman said. “We wanted to put up one last fight.”

The receiver finished with eight catches for 164 yards.

Fixen finished 5-of-5 for 83 yards.

Christian Sullano led the Wildcats with 80 rushing yards on eight carries.

West Ranch’s first playoff appearance is in the books.

And now other firsts are on the Wildcats’ radar.

“A first Foothill League championship and the first CIF playoff win,” O’Brien said. “There are still those.”


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