May 28, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Western notches school record fifth straight shutout and Pioneers top Garden Grove 35-0

Western’s football team takes the field in a recent game. (Photos courtesy Victor Baltazar, For OC Sports Zone)

Since an opening week loss to start the season, the Western High offense has been explosive and the Pioneers’defense has been perfect. 

On Thursday night at Western High, the Pioneers put on another offensive display and its defense posted a school-record fifth consecutive shutout as Western defeated Garden Grove 35-0 in a nonleague game.

Pioneers’ quarterback Isiah Del Toro completed 21 of 26 passes and tied his career-high with four touchdown passes. His favorite targets, twin brothers Cassius and Caine Savage combined to catch 17 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns. 

“We’re putting in the hard work and everybody has been stepping it up every day,” Del Toro said. “We can be an unstoppable team.”

Western (5-1) has outscored its opponents 183-0 over the past five games. 

“Five shutouts in a row is a school record and we’re really proud of that,” said Western coach Dan Davidson. “Garden Grove has a big and physical line and their quarterback is very athletic and we stood up to them after they punched us in the mouth last year. Our offense has playmakers and we have multiple threats.” 

Cassius Savage agreed with his coach.

“Our team chemistry has been growing and our defense loves putting zeros up on the board,” said Cassius Savage, who also plays free safety. “We don’t want anyone to score on us, we’re hungry.”

The Pioneers took the opening kickoff and moved quickly down the field and were on the verge of scoring a touchdown when the Argonauts forced a turnover by recovering a Western fumble in the end zone.

But the Pioneers regrouped and got on track in a hurry.   

Following a Garden Grove three-and-out, Western promptly marched 61 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead. Caine Savage caught a 14-yard TD pass from Del Toro to cap the scoring drive midway through the first quarter. Savage finished with 11 catches for 131 yards and a TD. 

Late in the quarter, the Pioneers upped its lead to 14-0 as Del Toro tossed a one-yard TD pass to Cassius Savage (6 catches for 48 yards).  

Western’s offense kept attacking as they increased its lead to 21-0, following a 15-yard touchdown run by Simi Ah-Loe, capping a four-play 65-yard scoring drive.   

Del Toro fired his third TD pass of the game midway through the second quarter, a 15 yarder, to Cassius Savage as the Pioneers built a commanding 28-0 halftime lead.

Del Toro completed 17 of 20 passes for 171 yards and 3 TDs in the first half. The Savage brothers combined for 14 receptions for 146 yards in the opening half and three touchdowns. Caine Savage also intercepted a Garden Grove pass late in the first half, foiling the Argonauts best scoring opportunity of the half. 

“We came together as a team and everybody is doing their jobs,” Caine Savage added.

Western’s defense, led by Anthony Barbosa, Bryce Jackson, Ellis Nguyen Jr. and Soane Motuliki, forced two turnovers and held Garden Grove to one completed pass and three first downs in the opening half. 

“We have a swagger and we’ve been bringing it each game,” said Nguyen Jr, who recorded two sacks. “We’re focused and we get after each other when we have to. We take pride in holding teams scoreless.”

Del Toro threw his fourth TD pass in the third quarter on an 18-yard pass play to Robbie Sauvao to close out Western’s scoring. 

Garden Grove senior runningback Austin Ceja had a solid game as he rushed for 100 yards on 14 carries to lead the Argonauts. 

“I was really proud of how our team responded in the second and third quarters,” said Garden Grove coach Ricardo Cepeda. “We started to move the ball and competed better. We dropped three interceptions and you can’t do that against a good team like Western. You need to make those kinds of plays to be competitive.”

The Argonauts (3-3) had their three-game winning streak snapped.

STATS

RUSHING: GG, Ceja 16-100; W, Sauvao 5-40, Del Toro 7-32.

PASSING:  GG, Lobaugh 4-9-1, 25 yards; W, Del Toro 21-26-0, 222 yards, 4 TDs.

RECEVING:  GG, DeLaTorre 2-19, Bruce 2-1; W, Cassius Savage, 6-48, 2 TDs, Caine Savage 11-131, TD.  

-Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone