June 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Despite CIF playoff loss, Troy football coach ‘excited to see what’s ahead’

Troy players take the field as school officials mark Veterans Day during pre-game ceremonies Friday. (Photos courtesy Jim McCormack, For OC Sports Zone).

A time-worn adage in football is “win the turnover battle, win the game. Lose the turnover battle, lose the game.”

That theory held true Friday night at Fullerton High School when Troy was unable to overcome three costly errors and lost to Santa Monica 35-20 in a CIF Division 9 quarterfinal playoff game.

“We did some good stuff in the game,” Troy Coach Michael Echaves said. “We just couldn’t overcome a couple of mistakes.”

There are degrees of pain in turnovers, of course, and few would be more excruciating than those experienced by the Warriors Friday night, the first in the final minute of the first half, the second in the final minute of the game.

With the first, Troy was driving for a tying touchdown late in the second quarter, when a receiver slipped making the cut on his pattern and Santa Monica’s David Solis-Valdovinos was unopposed as he intercepted the ball.

Solis-Valdovinos had an unchallenged race to the end zone on a play that spanned 78 yards. The result was that Troy, instead of entering intermission with a 14-14 tie, found itself on the wrong end of a 21-7 score.

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

Twice in the second half the Warriors were able to get within eight points of the Vikings, but each time Santa Monica was able to build the lead back to two touchdowns.

Echaves was pleased with his team’s fight, and rightly so. They still had some hope of a miracle finish down 35-20 with a minute to play at the Santa Monica 6.

A quick touchdown there, then recover an onside kick … perhaps a miracle finish was available.

But it was not to be.

With a Santa Monica defender wrestling with Troy receiver Vander Ploug in the foreground, the Vikings’ Griffin Seals made a leaping end zone interception and started down the north sideline for the Troy end zone 106 yards away.

Seals chose not to score, however, taking a knee at the Troy 2-yard line and the Vikings then ran out the clock.

The two interceptions and a lost fumble, negated a good offensive night for Troy, which clipped the Santa Monica defense for 434 yards.

Troy quarterback Rudy Alcala completed 17 of 25 passes for 231 yards and a TD. Alcala also ran a yard for a score.

Running back Ethan Mundt led the rushing attack, gaining 127 yards on 15 carries and scoring on a 10-yard run.

Receiver/defensive back Declan Kai Healey caught five passes for 96 yards and one score, a 24-yard toss from Alcala.

Troy had an exciting year, winning 7 of 12 games, earning a share of the Freeway League with La Habra and Sonora, winning a CIF playoff game and capturing the mythical Fullerton City title by beating Fullerton and Sunny Hills.

“Everyone thought this would be a rebuilding year for us … we lost a lot of people from last year,” Echaves said.

“But it was awesome the way these guys grew and matured. I’m excited to see what is ahead for these guys. The future is extremely bright because our seniors, 14 of them, set a precedent that is going to carry on for many years to come.”

Seniors playing their final game for the Warriors: Jacob Warner (DB), Jacob Popoca (LB), Charles Lin (LD), D’jay Vu (TE), Derek Rubaleava (LB), Jacob Guangorena (DB), Descan Kai Healey (RB/WR/DB), Surra Adinew (DB), Daniel Moran (WR), Gavin Burgos (DL), Maxmillian McKernan/Hernandez (DL/OL), Alexander Reynoso (OL), Orion Thibodeau (OL) and Luke Li (DL).

Santa Monica (8-4) moves on to the semifinals Friday at Kaiser.

—Courtesy Jim McCormack, For OC Sports Zone