June 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Yorba Linda powers past Foothill to earn share of Crestview League title with Knights

Yorba Linda was led by (from left) quarterback Holden Nagin, running back Chase Jones and defensive tackle Joshua Grethen Thursday night. (Photos: Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone).

Villa Park would also share crown with a win Friday.

Yorba Linda’s football team’s high-powered offense was virtually unstoppable in a Crestview League regular season finale as the Mustangs rolled to a 45-29 victory over Foothill Thursday night at Tustin.

By virtue of their win, Yorba Linda (7-3, 2-1) will share the league title with Foothill (6-4, 2-1) and wait for Friday’s result of the Villa Park/Brea Olinda game.

If Villa Park wins, there will be a three-way tie for the league title. The Mustangs earned their third consecutive league title.

Despite the loss, Foothill earned its first Crestview League title and won its first league championship since 2019 when the Knights captured the North Hills League title.

A coin flip was held on Tuesday and Yorba Linda will enter the CIF playoffs as the Crestview League No. 1 seed, followed by Foothill (No. 2 seed) and Villa Park (No. 3 seed). The first two seeds receive an automatic playoff bid.

Mustangs running back Chase Jones tied a career-high by scoring four touchdowns while rushing for 132 yards. Yorba Linda’s offense racked up 470 yards and the Mustangs defense stifled the Knights running attack and forced two turnovers. 

“Our defense played great,” said Jones, who carried the ball 28 times. “Foothill has a good running attack and it was amazing how our defense shut them down. Our O-line executed and we kept pushing the ball. This win gives us great momentum going into the playoffs.”

To see additional photos, click on the first picture:

The Mustangs scored on all five of their first half possessions to take a 31-14 lead at the break and scored on its first seven possessions in the game.

Yorba Linda took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead. The key play of the drive was a 57-yard pass play from quarterback Holden Nagin to wide receiver Jake Winners to the Knights seven-yard line. On the next play, Jones rambled in for a touchdown to give the Mustangs an early lead.

Foothill countered with an impressive nine-play, 80-yard drive, capped off by a three-yard TD pass from quarterback Nicholas Miali to David Man, tying the score at 7-7.

On the Mustangs first play of the ensuing drive, Nagin completed a screen pass to Jake Ridenour, who raced 74 yards to the Knights six-yard line. Two plays later, Jones blasted into the end zone to make it 14-7 with 3:36 left in the opening quarter.

“We practiced hard all week and we proved we can come back strong after a loss,” said Nagin, who completed eight passes for 227 yards and two TDs and rushed for 68 yards. “We’re getting better each week and were ready for the playoffs.”

Following a Foothill turnover, Yorba Linda upped its lead to 21-7 early in the second quarter after Nagin completed a 10-yard TD pass to Troy Roberts.

But Foothill battled back and Miali tossed a 48-yard touchdown strike to Jack Zerkel as the Knights trimmed the lead to 21-14 with 5:36 left in the half.

However, the Mustangs rallied for 10 points late in the quarter and increased their lead to 31-14 at halftime. Jones added his third TD score on a short touchdown run and Matix Stracker kicked a 32-yard field goal on the final play of the half as Yorba Linda took a 17-point lead in to the locker room at halftime.

The Mustangs outgained Foothill 330-141 yards in the opening half.

Yorba Linda defensive tackle Joshua Grethen was a thorn in Foothill’s side all night with three sacks and helped hold Aaron Mitchell, who was averaging 125 yards rushing a game to less than 50 yards on the ground.

“Our defense has been good at stopping the other team’s running game this season,” said Grethen. “Tonight, we stopped their ground attack and forced them to go to their throwing game.”

Jones scored his fourth TD of the game in the third quarter on a four-yard touchdown run and later in the quarter, Nagin tossed a 25-yard TD pass to Roberts.

In between Mustangs touchdowns, Mitchell caught a screen pass and zig-zagged his way 56 yards for a Foothill touchdown. Yorba Linda led 45-21 after three quarters. Miali added a short TD pass to Connor Pietras in the fourth quarter to close out the Knights scoring.

Miali completed 21 passes for 289 yards and four touchdown passes for the Knights, but it wasn’t enough. Pietras, Mitchell, David Man and Zerkel combined to catch 14 passes for 192 yards and four touchdowns for Foothill.   

Mustangs Coach Jeff Bailey said his team is playing its best football at the right time of the season.

“We’re pulling together as a unit, we were physical and we’re improving each week and we’re playing our best football at the right time,” said Bailey. “Our QB, Holden (Nagin), is throwing the ball well and he ran well tonight and we have three great running backs and Chase (Jones) is taking the lead right now for us.”

Foothill coach Doug Case said the game was won on the line of scrimmage.

“They won the game in the trenches; they handled us on the line,” said Case. “We have to get better up front going forward.”

It was senior night for Foothill with senior football players, cheerleaders, dance group members and band members honored before the game.

—Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone