By Jim Tortolano/Garden Grove Journal
On a night that honored a football player who became a legend in death, the Garden Grove High School football team took the wraps off a player who would become a new Argonaut legend.
The 2010 season opened last Friday night at Garden Grove Stadium with the Argos, rated number one in the CIF Southern Division, hosting the Westminster Lions, rated sixth. But most of the fans’ minds were not on rankings, but on remembrance.
Before the kickoff, a solemn ceremony was held in which the jersey number –– 45 – of Kevin Telles was retired. Telles collapsed and died in the closing minutes of the Argos first game of the 2009 season from undiscovered heart problems. Grove went on to post a 13-1 record and advance to the CIF finals for the first time since 1945.
Once the game started, the focus shifted to Josh Webb, a 5-foot, 11-inch senior speedster, who would score four touchdowns in the first half as the Argonauts ran past the Lions 46-14.
“He’s a playmaker,” said coach Willy Puga, after posting his first win leading the Argonauts. “We played him at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. He’s going to get a lot of touches this season.”
That became obvious quickly. On their first possession, the Argos struck. Quarterback Jovani Duran threw a short pass to Webb in the right flat, and he turned it into a 56-yard touchdown dash that put Grove up 7-0.
The Lions tied it, however, moving 69 yards in 13 plays and scoring on fourth down with a 22-yard pass from Dominic Pendergass to Carlos Torres.
The Argos grabbed back the lead in the second quarter when Webb ran 73 yards for a score on first down and a 13-7 edge. On their next possession, the Argonauts moved up to 20-7 on Webb’s 20-yard romp on a keeper.
Avery Williams made it 26-7 on a 23-yard run and Webb polished his resume one more time with a 75-yard punt return that made it 32-7 with 3:33 to go in the first half.
Westminster struck back with eight seconds in the half with a five-yard TD pass from Pendergass to Andrew Nguyen to make the score 32-14.
Grove added two more touchdowns in the second half, one on a 1-yard plunge by Jesse Lozano (who also shone on defense) and a 20-yard scoring pass from reserve quarterback Danny Sanchez to Shon Hall.
Puga had praise for the Lions, who finished second in the Golden West League last season and who are expected to contend again this year. “They ran really well on us in the first half, “ he said. ‘They’re going to be right there at the end.”
Westminster showed some opening game jitters. Although Pendergass’ stats showed him passing for only 66 yards, he had several on-target passes dropped.
The import of the opening game worked the opposite way for Grove, said Puga.
“It was emotional, but I think that just added to the excitement of the first game.”
With Webb on the field, it’s difficult to imagine the next nine games being anything but exciting, too.