It seemed like a long time coming for first-year head coach Matt Ballard, but Redondo’s first home win of the season couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
Anthony Philyaw scored on a 4-yard run to give the Sea Hawks a thrilling 34-31 overtime win over West and a celebration shared by the team and the homecoming crowd packed into Sea Hawk Bowl.
Only moments before, however, it was the visitor’s side that was cheering after Philyaw fumbled with West leading 31-28. But, after referees discussed the play, Philyaw was ruled down by contact giving the senior running back and the Sea Hawks a second chance at victory.
“The first home win was nice, especially for the players and fans. They really wanted it,” Ballard said. “Doing it on homecoming made is extra special.”
West had the first possession in overtime but, after a first-and-goal at Redondo’s 8 yard line, the Sea Hawk defense stiffened and limited the Warriors to a 30-yard field goal.
Philyaw enjoyed another stellar performance, carrying the ball 29 times for 231 yards and five touchdowns to earn Redondo’s Offensive Player of the Game award.
“He’s a great athlete,” Ballard said of his star running back. “When he gets his motor going, he’s a tough guy to catch. He’s a great weapon for us.”
Redondo got on the board with just over three minutes left in the first quarter. After Philyaw blocked a punt deep in West territory, he scored on a 3-yard run to even the score at 7.
West scored another touchdown in what developed into a see-saw battle. Redondo came back when quarterback Harrison Faecher’s 50-yard run set up a 15-yard touchdown run by Philyaw.
Philyaw gave Redondo its first lead of the game with a 70-yard burst that sent the Sea Hawks into the locker room at halftime leading 21-14. He scored his fourth touchdown of the night with a 22-yard run in the third quarter.
With Christian Fernandez the lone returning defensive starter from 2011, Redondo’s defense is beginning to gel, holding down a West offense that was averaging 42.8 points per game.
“Our defense is a young crew and it took some time to get going,” Ballard said. “We’re still making some mistakes but our defensive coaches are doing a great job and the kids are responding. Fernandez is our field general and corner backs Freddie Smith and Julian Harrison have stepped it up.”
Ballard credits junior Harry Whitson and senior Chad Simonek with anchoring the defensive line. Whitson was named Defensive Player of the Game for the Sea Hawks.
Sophomore kicker Colin Castillo was selected Redondo’s Special Teams Player of the Game while senior linebacker Joey Garcia earned Scout/Practice Player of the Week honors.
The win kept Redondo (4-3, 2-0) even with Palos Verdes (4-3, 2-0) in the Bay League race. Redondo will host the Sea Kings on Friday, Oct. 26.
West (5-2, 0-2), which entered the season as the Bay League favorite, now faces a critical game at Palos Verdes which could determine the Warrior’s playoff chances.
After its emotional win, Redondo must battle complacency as it plays at Leuzinger (1-6, 0-2) Friday in a 7 p.m. contest, but Ballard isn’t worried.
“We’ve address that issue,” Ballard said. “We just need to worry about ourselves and execute our goals.”
Leuzinger is coming off a 58-20 loss at Peninsula. The Olympian’s lone win came against rival Hawthorne in a non-league contest that snapped the program’s 19-game losing streak.
The workhorse for Leuzinger is running back Lua Kalolo and Travionne Pope is an athletic multi-purpose player who caught seven passes for 174 yards including touchdown receptions off 77 and 30 yards against Peninsula.
Olympian quarterback Sami Puloka completed 16 of 35 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns including a 7-yard toss to Jamari White who finished the game with seven catches for 84 yards.