North capitalizes on big plays in victory over Redondo
Baseball has been referred to as a game of inches, but Redondo learned Friday that the phrase also refers to football.
After taking a 10-7 lead with 1:26 remaining in the game, Redondo’s kickoff fell just short of the end zone and North’s Mique Juarez returned the ball 98 yards to give the Saxons a 13-10 home win in the season opener for both teams.
Juarez, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound multi-talented junior who has received offers from USC, UCLA and Cal, said he was surprised Redondo kicked the ball to him.
“I wasn’t expecting that at all,” Juarez said. “All night they were kicking into the end zone. When I got the ball, I saw the wedge set up perfectly, thanks to my blockers, and just took off.”
Redondo limited North’s offense to 17 yards in the first half and had prevented the Saxons from mounting any lengthy drives throughout the game, but two big plays were all the Saxons needed to pull out the win.
After a scoreless first half, Redondo got on the board in the third quarter when Guy Alford scored on a 6-yard run.
North evened the score early in the fourth quarter when quarterback Chris Kuaea was forced out of the pocket and raced 73 yards down the right sideline for a 73-yard touchdown.
Redondo responded with a 68-yard drive that was capped off with a 29-yard field goal by Dominik Eberle that gave the Sea Hawks a 10-7 lead with 1:26 remaining.
The ensuing kickoff gave Juarez the opportunity for his late-game heroics.
“Their kicker has a strong leg and it was just inches from being in the end zone, but we’ll take it,” North head coach Todd Croce said. “As a coaching staff, there have been many times we’ve said don’t ever kick it to a certain player and we do and bad things like that happen. It was fortunate for us. It was a good, hard fought battle and our kids didn’t hang their heads throughout the game.”
Kuaea was 11 for 18 passing for 77 yards and finished with 85 yards rushing on six carries.
Redondo relied on its running game, amassing 207 yards. Alford led the Sea Hawks with 137 yards on 26 carries.
“They outplayed us,” Redondo head coach Matt Ballard said. “They made big plays and we didn’t. It’s a sad way to lose an opening game, but I don’t think we earned it at the end. We have high expectations for our team but it only gets harder. This will be a good character check for us.”
Redondo will hold Teacher Appreciation Night at its home opener when the Sea Hawks take on Upland Friday at 7 p.m.
Upland is ranked No. 4 in the CIF-SS West Valley Division and is coming off a 71-0 rout of Knight. The Highlanders/Scots were led by quarterback Tyler Hilinski who threw four touchdown passes, including three to Malik Yoakum.
Yoakum also rushed for a touchdown, Joseph Ayala had a receiving and rushing touchdown and Nathan Tilford ran for two scores.