Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Football: Fortuna Makes Inspired run to State Title (12/16/17)

Fortuna celebrates its 54-33 victory over Katella of Anaheim in the CIF State Division 4-A title game on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. Photo/Manny Alvarez.

This one was for Bailey Foley.

After seeing their team captain suffer a life-threatening stroke right after their season opener, Fortuna dedicated its season to its running back/linebacker. It culminated with an amazing tribute to their star and a 54-33 victory for Fortuna over Katella of Anaheim in the CIF State Division 5-A championship game on Saturday night at Glover Stadium in Anaheim.

Zac Claus of Fortuna. Photo/Patrick Takkinen.

“This is a huge win,” Fortuna quarterback Zac Claus said. “We got to visit Bailey on the way here, which was emotional. I know he was listening on the radio and cheering for us. That was a huge win for us, for Bailey and for our community.”

Claus threw to seven different receivers on the night for Fortuna and all but two of his passes came in the first half. The Huskies made an adjustment and ran the ball in the second half. It worked as the Huskies began to hand the ball to RB Joey Pontes, who ran for two touchdowns in the second half.

With Katella, ranked No. 15 in Orange County by So Cal Sidelines, coming off four comeback victories in a row, including a 29-point comeback victory in the So Cal Regionals over Norte Vista of Spring Valley, Fortuna added more to put the Knights to sleep for good.

The Huskies season comes with a happy ending after dealing with tremendous adversity following their 41-18 loss to Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa on Aug. 25 when Foley suffered a stroke in front of his teammates. Foley is currently re-learning to speak and walk.

“It’s amazing,” Fortuna coach Mike Benbow said. “It’s a testament to the kids, who put in the hard work. When they could have quit during the season at times, they didn’t because they knew Bailey would never quit. I’m very proud of them. Sometimes you have to go through adversity. I’m very happy for our kids.”

SCORE: Fortuna 54, Katella 33

RECORDS: Fortuna (13-2), Katella (14-2)

KEY STATS: Claus threw to seven different receivers with four different receivers scoring on his passes. Claus was 9 of 17 passing for 203 yards and four touchdowns. RB/LB Scott Sederberg caught three passes for 105 yards and a TD. Claus only threw the ball twice in the second half after playing with an injury. Fortuna went to the running game, led by Pontes, who only carried the ball once, a 24-yard touchdown run. Pontes carried the ball eight times for 88 yards and two touchdowns. … Arrington was in control in the first half, but was held to 75 passing yards in the second half. Arrington was 22 for 39 passing for 230 yards with five touchdowns and an interception for Katella.

PIVOTAL MOMENT: Following a pump-fake pass from Arrington, which resulted in a 68-yard touchdown pass to WR Isaac Anderson to put the Knights up 27-20 with 1:30 left in the second quarter, Fortuna quickly went to work starting from its own 25-yard line. Claus only needed a couple of plays to throw down the field and finally found an open JB Lewis for a 32-yard touchdown with a minute left in the quarter. Following the successful two-point conversion to put the Huskies up 28-27, Fortuna got the ball back to start the third quarter along with momentum. Fortuna would outscore Knights 26-6 in the second half.

QUOTABLE I: “We made some halftime adjustments,” Claus said. “Our coaches did a really good job on that. We made adjustments in the second half. I didn’t play that much after getting hit in the ribs. We called the right plays and our guys did better than there guys.”

QUOTABLE II: “We made big mistakes,” Katella coach Fred DiPalma said. “Penalties like facemask gave them first downs. They were able to run the ball. When a team can run the ball, you’re going to lose. It was going to turn out to be a close game, but they just blow it down. It’s just the way it worked out. I’m still proud of the kids. I can’t be more proud of them.”

QUOTABLE III: “What a great game for a State Title,” Benbow said. “It was a great battle in the first half. We knew we had to do some things a little different. I’m so proud that our kids stepped up and made some big plays in the second half to kind of put it out of reach. Hats off to Katella. They had a great season. I’m really happy for our kids for getting it done.”

NOTES: Katella couldn’t get any momentum in the second half after its passing game was shut down. The running game couldn’t get anything going the entire night. Anderson rushed for 39 yards on four carries while catching three passes for 73 yards and a TD. Andrew Piscani rushed for 25 yards on 11 carries, Ed Williams caught six passes for 46 yards and a TD, Robert Tenorio caught four passes for 52 yards and a TD and Carlos Guerra caught seven passes for 58 yards and a TD. Sam Rosario had 11 tackles, Marcus Castro had nine tackles and Andres Gaspar had eight tackles for Katella, whish won the CIF-SS Division 11 title and the So Cal Division 4-A Regional title. “I’m not going to say it wasn’t unexpected,” DiPalma said. “Honestly, this season was just awesome. It was a pleasure to be a part of these kids’ lives. The games we had to play, the gruelling schedule, the close games, it’s been a grind. These kids fought it and stuck with it. We were able to get a CIF-SS championship and a Regional Championship. We just came up a little short tonight.” … Fortuna is normally led by Lewis, but he was held in check, rushing for 38 yards on 11 carries along with a 32-yard touchdown catch. Luckily, Fortuna went to Church Crenshaw, who rushed for 77 yards on 11 carries with a TD, while catching a 12-yard touchdown pass. Hunter Turner caught a 44-yard touchdown to go along a team-high seven tackles on defense, Branden Simera caught a 21-yard TD and Ethan Higgins had an interception for Fortuna. “It’s amazing,” Benbow said. “I highly recommend this feeling. Were going to Disneyland!”

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