By Adam Stites/Garden Grove Journal
The rivalry between the Rancho Alamitos Vaqueros and the Garden Grove Argonauts is one of the oldest in the county. In recent years, the Garden Grove football team has proven themselves to be the superior of the two, winning their annual contest in four consecutive years.
That streak, though, came to an end on Friday, Oct. 28 as the Vaqueros cruised to a 41-14 victory at Bolsa Grande Stadium.
As has become customary this season, the Vaqueros were led offensively by senior running back Brett Hurley. The Rancho offense leaned on Hurley as he tallied 148 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 38 carries.
“[Brett Hurley] is one of the toughest dudes I’ve ever coached,” said Vaqueros head coach Mike Enright, “We have other good running backs, but I felt like he gave us the best chance tonight to win and control the game and he did a great job.”
However, it was the Argos that found themselves on the scoreboard first after their first possession of the game. After four consecutive runs by Mark Umanzor and Bryan Quexel that totaled a combined 53 yards, running back C.J. Del Real ran into the end zone from 10 yards. Following a successful Gabriel Carillo extra point attempt, Garden Grove led 7-0.
Rancho responded with 27 unanswered points, including a 22 yard interception return for a touchdown by Xavier Payan with seven minutes remaining in the second quarter.
With just 23 seconds left in the half quarterback Lincoln Faletoi extended the Vaqueros lead to 13 when he found tight end Kalab Veletaloola for a four yard touchdown. A high snap on the ensuing extra point attempt kept the score 20-7 at halftime.
After a 32-yard Faletoi run that resulted in another Rancho touchdown and extended the lead to 20, Grove began to show signs of life. They concluded a nine play, 64 yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run by Gabriel Carillo and cut the lead to 13.
The Argos defense managed to stifle the Rancho offense on the ensuing possession and forced a punt that gave them the ball back on their own 43-yard line. A fumble on the first play of the drive and the final play of the third quarter gave the ball back to the Vaqueros and killed the momentum in Grove’s favor. Hurley capitalized with a 19 yard touchdown run.
Another fumble on the next possession led to another Hurley rushing touchdown and put the game out of reach. With 4:48 remaining in the game, Grove spoiled its final attempt to score when Chris Martinez threw his second interception of the game, this time to Michael Mireles.
“It took four years to beat these guys, but we finally did it,” said Hurley. “It’s just amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
The Vaqs will attempt to stay undefeated in league play when they play Santiago Thursday (today) at Garden Grove High School. The Argos will try to recover and solidify their spot in the playoffs when they face the Bolsa Grande Matadors on Friday, at Bolsa Grande.
“They have a blast playing, this a fun group to coach,” said Enright. “I love being around these guys, it makes it easy.”