May 28, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

El Modena uses big play offense and strong defense to defeat Canyon 35-0

El Modena’s junior defensive back and receiver (No. 11) Sam Astor celebrates with his teammates after coming up with an interception in the closing minutes of the second quarter Friday night. (Photo: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

El Modena’s football team delighted its homecoming crowd with an explosive offense and an aggressive defense to defeat Canyon 35-0 Friday night in a non-league at Fred Kelly Stadium.

El Modena quarterback Jack Keays threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score as the Vanguards (4-1) won their third consecutive game. The Comanches dropped to 1-4.    

David Vasquez intercepted a Comanches’ pass in the first quarter and El Modena turned it into seven points. Sam Astor caught a 2-yard TD pass to cap an 8-play, 45-yard scoring drive, giving El Modena a 7-0 lead at the 1:29 mark.   

Two plays later, defensive back Alex Luna picked off a Canyon pass and had the Vanguards on the move again. El Modena marched 67 yards in seven-plays to up its lead to 14-0. Keays finished the drive with a 5-yard TD run.

Despite committing three turnovers in the opening half (and four in the game), the Comanches had four excellent scoring opportunities but failed each time to capitalize. Twice, Canyon drove deep in Vanguards’ territory but turned the ball over on downs and twice they were vicitmized by interceptions, including Sam Astor’s pick in the El Modena end zone with one-second remaining in the half. 

Behind the pinpoint passing of Keays, the Vanguards extended their lead to 21-0, following a 16-yard TD pass from Keays to Blake Armstrong with 2:05 left in the half. Keays completed 16 passes for 186 yards to go along with his three TD passes.  

“Once we started to buckle down, they could not stop us,” said Keays. “The O-line gave me lots of time to throw and our defense was awesome.”     

Owen Smith scored on a third quarter one-yard TD run and Keays tossed a short TD pass to Troy Parker in the fourth quarter.

“Our defense keyed on their offensive threats and we stopped their passing game,” Smith added.   

Christian Lundsberg completed 16 passes for 159 yards and Darren Welkler caught five passes for 56 yards to lead the Comanches. Luke Oliva also had an interception for Canyon.

“We had our opportunities and it hurts, but give them credit, when they had to make big plays, they made big plays,” said Canyon interim coach Eric Yost. “They have a good thing going on over there. We’re a young team and we’ve made mistakes but we fighters and we’re going to figure it out.”  

Canyon’s head coach Josh Waybright remained sidelined as he is recovering from an automobile accident, according to Yost. “Josh is doing better and is anxious to get back on the field. He is still waiting for clearance from his doctors,” Yost said.

“The kids are rallying in his absence and want to win for him. I talk with him each week and his spirits are up and he’s looking forward to coming back soon.”

Los Angeles Charger linebacker Kenneth Murray was on hand and participated in a pregame ceremony as the Chargers honored El Modena coach Matt Mitchell, who was recently recognized as Chargers Orange County high school coach of the week.   

“Tonight, we did not let up, we played 48 minutes,” said Mitchell. “Jack (Keays) started out slow, but he settled down and played a great game. The whole team made adjustments and played well.”


—Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone