June 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

El Dorado rallies but comeback bid falls short in CIF Division 7 title game against Mayfair

El Dorado coaches console the Golden Hawks players after Saturday’s CIF finals loss. (Photos: Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone).

El Dorado’s football team was trying for one more comeback playoff win Saturday night in the CIF Division 7 final against Mayfair at Valencia.

But the Golden Hawks, trying to bring home the program’s third CIF title and first since 2007, fell short, losing to the Monsoons 31-28 in front of an estimated 3,500 fans including supportive El Dorado students who stood during the whole game, except for halftime.

It was the third CIF title for Mayfair. El Dorado had battled back from a 13-point deficit to defeat ML King 30-29 in double overtime in the semifinals last week.

Another comeback wasn’t in the cards Saturday night.

“Our kids battled to the very end and that’s what we’ve always asked of them,” said El Dorado Coach Zack LaMonda. “Ultimately, they made a couple more plays in the crucial times and they have their plaque as opposed to what we hope we held.

“I’m very proud of them. They’re Warriors, I love every single one of them and they left it all out on the field and that’s what you ultimately ask for. Did we play our best game? I don’t know but we left it out there. My hats off to Mayfair, well coached and a bunch of great athletes and they ultimately made plays at the end of the game to win it.”

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El Dorado cut the lead to 31-28 when quarterback Nate Bento connected with Evan Campuzano on a 10-yard TD pass with 4:05 left in the game. The Golden Hawks were unable to recover an onside kick but the defense stopped Mayfair on the next series and the Golden Hawks got the ball back on their own 36-yard line with 3:32 left.

El Dorado advanced the ball to the Mayfair 34-yard line but on a fourth down play, Bento’s pass fell barely incomplete, ending the comeback bid with about a minute left.

The Monsoons were led offensively by quarterback Jeremiah Calvin, who passed for 325 yards and a touchdown, the first score of the game, a 48-yard pass to Max Mitchell that gave the Monsoons an early lead.

But El Dorado stayed close with TD runs of 45, 1 and 3 yards by Isaiah Quintero, who rushed for 104 yards.

Mayfair (11-3) extended its lead to 24-21 on a 35-yard field goal by Rocco Mercado at the end of the first half.

Louis Johnson extended the Monsoons to lead to 31-21 on a a 25-yard TD run by Louis Johnson late in the third quarter but El Dorado refused to fold and had a chance to win it on its final drive.

“Our defense did well in the second half,” LaMonda said. “They made some adjustments and offensively, we put some things together. We just couldn’t convert and that’s what it ultimately comes down to. You have to convert on certain situations and we were unable to do that.”

LaMonda said his plan was to go for the go-ahead TD on the final drive of the game rather than attempt a field goal to send the contest to overtime.

“I thought the momentum was on our side,” he said. “You can feel the wind going in the other direction, so I knew we would have to get five or six more yards than we normally would have with the wind blowing in the evening hours like this, but I was going to win the game and I wouldn’t change it.”

LaMonda praised the effort of Quintero.

“For going through everything that kid did at the beginning of the year with a broken fibula and coming back, they all played well, but specifically Quintero, he’s a warrior and he battled his tail off,” he said. “Bento rose to the occasion. The whole defense played well, yeah we gave up big plays, but they’re a high powered offense throwing the ball a lot and they have some great playmakers out there.

Bento wound up passing for 126 yards and was his team’s leading rushers with 152 yards to help keep his team in the game until the end.

Mayfair players celebrated after receiving the championship plaque.

“We’ve been in positions before, not in this game, but in semifinal games where we were able to get over the hump and to able to win tonight is fantastic,” said Mayfair Coach Derek Bedell.

The Monsoons coach was pleased with Calvin’s effort.

“He was unbelievable tonight, he really played very, very well, he played within the scheme. We got contributions from a bunch of guys on offense and defense. It was just a great night.”

LaMonda, the Hawks coach, told his players who were taking the loss hard, he was proud of their effort.

“That’s how we train, we battle, we practice from the off-season through the season, we always battle, we put them in unique situations in practice and off the field to be in situations like this, but my hats off to Mayfair, they did a very good job and they’re well coached and they pulled out the victory tonight,” he said.

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com