Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Football: Desire Powers Garden Grove Past Sunny Hills (11/9/17)

Dominick Sanchez (No. 27) of Garden Grove. Photo/Mark Bausman.

Playoff football is all about las ganas, the desire.

With his team trailing by a touchdown at halftime, Garden Grove coach Ricardo Cepeda challenged his team and asked how badly do they want to play one more week.

The halftime talk gave the Argos the boost they needed en route to a 42-28 victory over Sunny Hills of Fullerton in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 8 playoffs on Thursday night at Garden Grove High.

Alex Jung (No. 5) of Sunny Hills of Fullerton launches himself into the end zone. Photo/Mark Bausman.

“The word of the week this week is desire,” Cepeda said. “I talked to them at halftime about adjustments, but I also told them that we are doing the right things, we just have to make the plays. I told them we have 24 minutes and maybe some overtime with the way the game was going. We have to have las ganas, some desire. We have to shove it down their throat and you have to let them know. I told them that these guys haven’t been in the playoffs in a tight game. If we put a little bit of pressure and take the lead, they’re going to fold. The kids took that and started hammering on these guys. I’m really proud of the way they played.”

Sunny Hills turned to its prime weapon, RB Alex Jung, and he didn’t disappoint, rushing for 204 yards and two TDs in the first half alone to give the Lancers a 21-7 lead late in the second quarter. Garden Grove had the ball with a minute left in the first half and drove down the field very quickly, resulting in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Zazueta to Brandon Coleman to make it 21-14 at the half.

The Agros started the third quarter with the ball and tied the game thanks to a 1-yard run by Mike Carrillo.

Sunny Hills fired back with Jung’s third touchdown run of the night, making it 28-21 midway through the third quarter, but the Argonauts sent Carrillo into the end zone on a goal-line play to make it 28-28.

Jung fumbled on Sunny Hills’ next possession and Garden Grove recovered. Carrillo scored on another TD run to give the Argos the lead for good.

Jacob Zazueta (No. 13) of Garden Grove. Photo/Mark Bausman.

SCORE: Garden Grove 42, Sunny Hills 28

RECORDS: Garden Grove (7-3), Sunny Hills (8-3)

KEY STATS: Jung, who is the Orange County’s leader in rushing yards, rushed for 280 yards and three TDs on 33 carries and he also caught three passes for 37 yards. … Dominick Sanchez led the Argos with 164 yards and a TD a TD on 22 carries. Coleman caught three passes for 53 yards and a TD to go with his 12 tackles and and interception for Garden Grove.

PIVOTAL MOMENT: With the game going back and forth, any small mistake could be dangerous. Following a 2-yard touchdown run by Jose Carrillo to tie the game, 28-28, Sunny Hills went to work at it’s own 28 with under two minutes to go in the third quarter, but Jung fumbled and Garden Grove recovered at the Lancers’ 27. Carrillo scored on a 1-yard TD run a few minutes later to put the Argos up 35-28 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Sunny Hills unable to recover from the turnover.

QUOTABLE I: “The key word for this week was desire,” Sanchez said. “We had to show that we care about our team. The line of scrimmage was the key to our goal. The linemen did all the work. They did all the work and we filled up the holes.”

QUOTABLE II: “We had heart,” Coleman said. “That’s what we have been working on all week. That is what we have been working on every week. This week was all about desire on getting to the second round and we got that. It was a hell of a game for them. Alex Jung is a heck of a player. It was great that we got to stop him a couple times and made a couple good plays. It all about our desire.”

QUOTABLE III: “We just didn’t enough defensively,’ Sunny Hills coach Pete Karavedas said. “We didn’t make enough plays defensively to win a game in the playoffs. That’s a good football team, obviously. They have a lot of playoff experience and they made big plays on offense and we didn’t make the big plays on defense whether it was the fourth down play or the play right before the half to make it 21-14 to give them momentum. We let them back in the game by not making some plays on defense. They obviously made a bunch of plays on offense. That’s what it really came down to.”

QUOTABLE IV: “We had to stop Jung,” Cepeda said. “I thought we had a good game plan in the first half, but we couldn’t tackle him. Over a period of the game, those hits started to happen and he wasn’t running as well. He’s a great player and he did a great job, but we forced him to fumble and it turned some momentum. We found our rhythm on offense. They’re a good team, but Garden Grove is tough. I’m never counting my kids out against anybody. We may have started a little rough, but the goal is always to play until November and practice on Thanksgiving. Our kids just played really hard. Our quarterback became the man tonight. He played really well and had a great game. He did all the right things, made all the right reads and made good throws. That touchdown in the end of the second quarter gave us a lot of confidence.”

Garden Grove advanced to the CIF-SS Division 8 quarterfinals. Photo/Mark Bausman.

NOTES: As expected, ended up being a track meet with both teams utilizing their running games. Sunny Hills QB Luke Duxbury completed 8 of 16 for 91 yards with a 19-yard TD pass to Brandon Won and an interception. Won caught two passes for 31 yards with a TD along with seven tackles and a sack for the Lancers, whose 21 year playoff winless streak continues. Still, they have shown promise after an eight-win season. “We are certainly excited about the progress of the program,” Karavedas said. “Getting eight wins is an accomplishment in talking about the direction our program is taking. We have a lot of work to do if we want to win in the playoffs.” … The Argos’ passing game was no different than Sunny Hills’ aerial attack. Zazueta was 5 of 9 for 91 yards with a TD, but he also ran for 75 yards on seven carries with a TD. Carrillo only rushed for 26 yards on 12 carries, but was unstoppable near the goal line, scoring three times on the ground. Garden Grove advances to the quarterfinals to take on the winner of the Citrus Valley of Redlands/Silverado of Victorville game next Friday. “It all starts tomorrow,” Coleman said. “We will watch film in the morning and get a workout in. Next week we have to have the best practices of the season, just like we did this week. We have to do the same thing next week, come back with a win.”

(NOTE: Report football news and notes to So Cal Sidelines editor-in-chief Carlos Arias via email (, text (949-606-3602) or Twitter (@SoCalSidelines))

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