May 20, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Santa Ana’s Joe Peñaflor gets 300th career win and Saints stay atop league

Santa Ana High players join Coach Joe Peñaflor (middle) before Wednesday’s league match. (Photo: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

Legendary Santa Ana High boys soccer Coach Joe Peñaflor got his 300th career victory Wednesday afternoon and his Saints remained atop the Orange Coast League standings with a perfect 5-0 mark.

Santa Ana defeated Costa Mesa 4-1 at Santa Ana Stadium and after the match, Peñaflor was doused with a bucket of water, then posed for pictures with his players.

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

He thanked all the players who have played for him, his assistants and his family. School officials made a banner for him congratulating him on his 300th career win. He was also presented an autographed soccer ball.

“Just thinking of the years and all the time and effort that has gone into bulding this program,” said Peñaflor said in an interview while trying to fight back tears. “I took over for my dad in 2001 after he ran it for a good 20 years so this program has been in the family for 40 years.

“It’s just been a passion of mine to build a program like this to work with kids in this community and the high school and to give them a place to show off their talents and abilities and to get them to graduate from high schoool and move on. It’s been a lot of years, a lot of hard work.”

Peñaflor said he appreciated that family members, including his wife Michelle, were on hand for the milestone win. His brother and sister were there along with many coaching friends.

Peñaflor was also pleased that the Saints were able to continue their outstanding play. Ceasar Zamora had two goals and Paul Carrillo and Saul Ortuno had one goal each.

“To reach 300 the game was important for league, we’re trying to win our seventh league title in a row and that’s not easy,” he said. “We want to win a CIF championship and be one of those teams to beat, not only in the county, but in Southern California. It’s a big passion of our’s. We love the school and we love the sport. I’m just proud to be a part of it.”

The players seemed to take pride in seeing their coach get the big win. They gathered around him for pictures.

“I’m very happy for him, he really deserves it, he puts in the time,” said senior forward Diego Anaya, who hopes to return from a foot injury next week. “He’s a helluva coach, he doesn’t miss any days, he’s always here. I’m as excited as him, maybe more excited.

“Being a champion is an every day thing and he’s proven it to us. He doesn’t miss a day. His coaching is amazing.”

RELATED: 300th win represented all that is good about high school sports

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