June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Transfer quarterback Eddie Ma leads Northwood to opening win over his former team

Northwood quarterback Eddie Ma (left) and receiver Joseph Harper teamed up on big plays Saturday night. (Photos: Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone).

New Northwood High School quarterback Eddie Ma made quite an impression Saturday night in his first game leading the Timberwolves’ offense against the team he transferred from.

Ma, a 6-3 senior, threw three touchdown passes and passed for 275 yards to lead Northwood to a 33-7 non-league victory over Woodbridge in the season opener for both teams at University. Ma started for the Warriors the last two years before deciding to transfer to Northwood.

Ma struggled at the start with three interceptions, but settled down and finished with two TD passes to junior Joseph Harper in the third quarter that made it 33-7. He also had a 5-yard TD run that put the Warriors ahead 16-7.

“I just believe in the coaching staff and what they have and the players that we have,” Ma said when asked about his reasons for transferring to a city rival. “Five of my lead receivers last year were seniors, so they graduated and a running back graduated, we had 12 seniors last year who graduated, playing both ways.

“I saw them (Northwood) go 14-2 and beat way bigger opponents and way better opponents, I’m talking about Lakewood and Monrovia and Vista Del Lago, I think that really bought me in to what this coaching staff has.”

Ma hugged all his former Warrior teammates after the game.

“Mixed feelings really, it’s nice to get the win, but when you get to hug them, you remember the three years you spent with them. I just had to do what I had to do,” he said.

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Northwood offensive coordinator Phil Roh told the players after the game that Ma’s second half performance will be typical of what he does.

“Probably facing my old team, and I take that responsibility,” Ma said of the interceptions. “There was a lot of chit chat going on and I felt the pressure was kind of getting to my head. But I really feel like our O-line stepped up. I’m really proud of the O-line for the second half adjustment we made and I really didn’t feel anything in the second half so I really want to give them props.”

Northwood, while it struggled a bit in the first quarter, eventually took control and showed that the Timberwolves, coming off consecutive CIF titles could be a team to watch again despite the graduation of standout back Adam Harper.

“There is a lot going into this game,” said his younger brother Joseph Harper, who had TD catches of 3, 28 and 59 yards. “Eddie transferred from Woodbridge, this was our first game without Adam and all of our leaders the past two years.”

He welcomed the addition of Ma, who he used to play against in flag football.

“We were running the ball too much the last two years, it’s finally time to throw, we got a good QB and I’m excited, because this is what’s going to be happening all year,” Harper said.

Harper said he’s heard people doubting whether the Timberwolves can continue their success. He has no doubt they can.

“We started off a little slow, had opportunities, just missed them,” he said. “But our defense just really stepped up.”

Among the standouts were Tristan Tran, Donald Longo and Harper’s little brother, freshman Jacob Harper, a lineman.

“He’ a two-way starter, he’s bigger than both me and Adam,” Joseph Harper said.

Northwood Coach JC Clarke said Northwood was able to make some adjustments early on.

“We had some trouble with some outside rushers,” he said. “We made a switch and the freshman Harper went in and did a great job at tackle and he plays a little defense too. Joe was the star of the game. Any time you win, I’m happy. I was real happy with the defense.”

Northwood’s defense contained Woodbridge well. The Warriors only score came on a 74-yard run by Tatum Ramos in the first quarter that cut the lead to 9-7. Ramos rushed for 125yards on 11 carries and quarterback Caden Godby passed for 92 yards.

Northwood took a 2-0 lead in the first quarter on a safety following a sack. Ma’s 3-yard TD pass to Harper put the Timberwolves ahead 9-0.

Northwood kept rolling in the second half, moving out to a 19-7 lead on a 23-yard field goal by Cole Hidalgo.

Harper wound up with six catches for 142 yards.

Mikey Rubino had two interceptions and Aydrien Garnica one for Woodbridge.

Northwood players sang happy birthday to Clarke after the game in honor of his 67th birthday which was Thursday.

The non-league game featured teams from two leagues within the Pacific Coast Conference: Northwood, which is in the upper tiered Pacific Coast League and Woodbridge from the Pacific Valley League.

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