June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Crean Lutheran moves on to quarterfinals after upsetting Hart in first round

Crean Lutheran players and coaches celebrate after Friday night’s playoff win. (Photos courtesy Crean Lutheran Shutterbugs, John Luciano and Ted Rigoni).

Crean Lutheran High School’s football team made a long road trip Friday night to College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita and came away with a 37-21 victory over Hart in the opening round of the CIF Division 6 playoffs.

The upset marked the highest divisional victory in the school’s history, according to Coach Rick Curtis. Crean Lutheran competed in Division 8 in 2022 and advanced to the quarterfinals. 

The Hart Indians scored first and led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter after the teams traded turnovers in the opening frame. 

The Saints responded with 14 unanswered points in the second quarter as Taurian Nash, who had eight carries, 68 yards and two touchdowns, scored from one yard out.

To see the slide show, click on the first photo:

Justin Dominguez, who had 23 carries for 192 yards and three touchdowns, followed with a 3-yard touchdown run to put the Saints up 14-7 midway through the second quarter. Hart responded to tie the score 14-14 with just under two minutes to play in the half.

Crean Lutheran (8-3) moved the ball downfield and Connor Stephens provided a lift with a 42-yard field goal with just 8 seconds left in the first half to put the Saints up 17-14. 

Dominguez’s 8-yard touchdown run in the third quarter helped the Saints move out to a 23-14 lead however, the Indians answered with a 40-yard touchdown pass that pulled them within 23-21.

The Saints responded quickly as Dominguez’ broke through the middle of the Indian’s defense for a 60-yard touchdown run that made it a two-score game at 30-21, Nash tacked on a 29-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to put the game completely out of reach.

“The offensive line of Kellen Cosenza, Kyler Petronis, Grant Culbertson, Jameel Naber and Tyler Garcia had their best game as they opened up sizeable holes for the running backs, leading to 258 rushing yards on the evening,” Curtis said.

“Ben Byszewski and Carter Jones each had interceptions in the first half to offset two early fumbles by the Saints. Byszewski added a second interception and a 30-yard runback to turn away the Indians in the fourth quarter. The defensive front of Daniel McEarchern, Tyler Parker, Josiah Mora and Anthony Jones kept constant pressure on the Indians’ vaunted passing attack.”

Jones (13 tackles) and Mason McCullough (9 tackles) were the leading tacklers while Anthony Jones recorded a key sack of 20 yards in the third quarter.

The Saints will be on the road again to take on Simi Valley (6-5) on Friday at 7 p.m. Simi Valley upset Rancho Verde 40-34 in overtime to advance.