It all came down to a pass from the Diamondback’s original starting quarterback Payton Cornell to put a Cinderella finish to the season, and it worked. After 17 years of championship drought, the Serrano High School football team is once again CIF champions. In stunning fashion, Serrano defeated Buena High School 21-14 at their home field in Ventura.
The Diamondbacks played from behind the entire game, entering the fourth quarter down 7-14. Buena proved early to have an explosive offense, so Serrano decided to slow the game down offensively to deny Buena’s offense chances to score. The strategy was very successful. Buena finished the game with 28 offensive plays; Serrano had 60.
Slowing things down meant going to the run game, and Rigo Cabral was there to do his part. Early in the fourth quarter, he was finally able to find a gap and broke to run 42 yards for a game-tying TD, making it 14-14 after the kick. He finished with 28 carries for 182 yards and one TD.
Later in the quarter, with under a minute to go, Payton Cornell came in under center for the first time in post-season play since an ankle injury forced Tanner Chaffee into the position. Cornell dropped back to pass, and with 21.2 seconds left in the game, was able to connect with none other than Chaffee for a 79-yard pass for the game-winning TD. Chaffee finished the game 2/5, passing for one yard. Cornell went 1/1 for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Defensive leaders in the game were Ethan Pippin, who had six tackles and four assists; Jacob Porter, who had five tackles and three assists; and Sean Stinnett, who had five tackles and one assist.
After this incredible feat, the 12-3 Serrano Diamondbacks will play again on December 3rd, at home against the 10-4 Central Valley Christian for the Southern California State Regional Championship and, if they win, the opportunity to play in the State Championships. The game will be played at the Diamondback’s Stadium at Serrano High School in Phelan and starts at 7:30 pm with the gates open at 6:30 pm. Tickets are available through GoFan.co.