June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Running back Aaron Mitchell helps Foothill roll past Aquinas in CIF playoff opener

Aaron Mitchell (left) and Nicholas Miali helped lead the Knights to the win. (Photo: Alex Suarez, For OC Sports Zone).

By ALEX SUAREZ

For OC Sports Zone

Foothill High School’s football team defeated Aquinas 35-22 Thursday night in the first round of the CIF Division 5 playoffs at Tustin.

Senior running back Aaron Mitchell led the Knights (7-4 overall) with four rushing touchdowns. 

“Good game obviously, we came out on top and moving on,” said Foothill Coach Doug Case. “Aaron Mitchell played great on offense and the defense really rose up and played championship style defense.” 

The Knights gained an early advantage by forcing a fumble on the opening kickoff. Mitchell then carried the ball six times for 27 yards and scored on a 3-yard rushing touchdown. 

By the end of the first half, Mitchell had accumulated 111 yards and three touchdowns. He finished the game with 203 yards on 29 carries. 

“I knew we had to come out big,” Mitchell said. “If we didn’t come out big it would have been our last game and I’m not done playing football yet.”

In the third quarter, senior center Ryan Worden recovered a fumble in the end zone, resulting in a touchdown for Foothill.

Quarterback Nicholas Miali was also solid for the Knights, completing five passes for 57 yards, while also rushing for six yards. 

Aquinas (7-4) responded early in the first quarter but struggled to keep pace with the Knights’ fast-paced offense. A 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Malachi Jones to Yaqiym Halliburton marked Aqunas’s first touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

Halliburton finished the game with 11 receptions for 140 yards, a team high. Jones completed 19 passes for 203 yards for Aquinas, which had a six-game winning streak coming into the game.

Freshman Champ Brown, the Falcons’ leading rusher, gained 105 yards on 10 carries and scored both an 8-yard and a 1-yard touchdown run. Following Brown’s first rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, Aquinas executed a two-point conversion with a pass to Marcus Mcgeilberry.

Foothill will play the winner of the Newbury Park vs. Ventura game being played Friday.

“We’re going to keep pounding it but will look to mix things up a bit to keep them off balanced,” Case said. “Offensively we’ll be fine. We just have to keep playing great defense and stay healthy at this time of year.”