The Friday night lights shined bright in Phelan on Friday, November 12th, as Serrano football advanced to the semifinals of the CIF playoffs after a dominant 42-21 victory over the Ramona High School Rams.
The Rams got on the board early in the first quarter when quarterback Nathan Johnson connected with receiver Emmanuel Villa for a 23-yard touchdown pass. Following the extra point, the score stood at 0-7 Rams, with 7:20 remaining in the first. A few minutes later, with 2:01 left in the first, Serrano answered back with a 12-yard TD run from quarterback Tanner Chafee that tied the game at 7-7.
The next drive starting the second quarter, the Rams faced a critical fourth and four from about Serrano’s 30-yard line as Johnson went to pass and was picked off by the D’backs number 19, Josh Martin, who returned it over 70 yards for the TD. The score gave Serrano their first lead of the game, 14-7 after the extra point. They would not trail again for the rest of the night. With 8:51 left in the second, Johnson tied the game for the Rams 14-14 with a 12-yard TD pass to Villa. Their second TD of the night. Later in the second quarter and capping off an eight-minute drive, Serrano stretched their lead seven more points with a one-yard touchdown run that made the game 21-14 heading into halftime.
Serrano received the ball to start the third, but after a quick three and out were punting it back to the Rams. With 9:47 left in the quarter, Ramona took possession at their own 19-yard line. Four minutes later and facing third and six from Serrano’s 15-yard line, Johnson threw a quick-out route to running back Beau Bruins, who made three defenders miss on his way to tying the game for the second time. With 5:58 left in the quarter, the score now stood at 21-21. A few plays later and aided by penalties against Ramona, Serrano was in their opponent’s territory, facing a fourth and four at the 20. The ball was handed off to number 23, Rigo Cabral, who was stopped at the line forcing a turnover on downs. In the next play, Johnson fumbled the handoff for the Rams and was recovered by Serrano on their own 16-yard line.
Two plays later, at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Cabral ran in a one-yard TD to take the 28-21 lead. Later in the quarter, Ramona was midway through the field and facing a first and 10 when Johnson fumbled the handoff again, and again Serrano recovered. Following a forty-yard pass from Chaffee to number 81, Matthew Giebes, Cabral scored with a six-yard TD run, his second of the night. Following a failed two-point conversion, the score was 34-21. With Ramona facing a fourth and two from their own 28, Serrano’s number 22, outside linebacker Jacob Porter came up big for the defense with an explosive hit on Johnson as he went for the pass. The ball was turned over on downs. With 5:43 left in the game, Cabral went 25 yards for his third rushing TD of the night. After a successful two-point conversion, the score was 42-21.
Following the victory, Serrano Head Coach Casey Maholchic said, “I’m happy with the way the team battled and overcame some of the penalties and mistakes.” He was especially proud of the defense’s second-half performance, Cabral’s running, and the offensive line.
On Friday, November 19th, Serrano will play a home game against the Highland High School Bulldogs at 7 pm in the CIF semifinals playoff round. The Diamondbacks last faced the Bulldogs during week four of this season and defeated them 21-12.