By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
Garden Grove’s season ended where they expected it but not how they wanted.
The Argonauts lost to Corona Del Mar 35-10 Saturday at Angel Stadium in the CIF Southern Division Finals. Corona Del Mar won its second-straight CIF Championship.
“We expect to be here year in and year out,” Garden Grove Head Coach Willy Puga said. “This game just didn’t turn out how we wanted.”
The Sea Kings set the defensive tone early . Alex Moore returned an interception one play into the game for a 7-0 lead. The Sea Kings pushed the lead to 14-0 on Cayman Carter’s one-yard touchdown.
Minutes later, a partially-blocked punt gave the Sea Kings the ball at the Argonaut 38-yard line. A holding penalty pushed the Sea Kings back to midfield. That woke up the Argonaut defense.
Linebacker Josh Huff sacked Carter for an eight-yard loss. Gerardo Rodarte caught Carter again on the next play for a three-yard loss.
The Argonauts took the momentum and drove 61 yards to the Corona Del Mar 10-yard line. With goal to go, the Argonauts gave the ball to their big fullback Maze Masoe. The senior gained five yards.
The Argonauts needed five yards and had three more plays to get them. Masoe gained another two yards. On third and three with the defense keyed in on Maze, his brother Sionne Masoe took the handoff and gained two more yards.
The Argonauts faced fourth and one. Everyone in the stadium knew Maze Masoe would get the ball again, but it didn’t matter. The senior had proved all year he couldn’t be stopped that close to the goal line.
But before Masoe could get the ball, the Argonauts were called for a false start penalty, pushing the ball back to the six-yard line. Puga put the field goal unit in. Gabe Cabrillo’s 24-yard kick made it 14-3 with 6:18 to go in the half.
The Sea Kings added a safety and another touchdown to lead 23-3 at halftime.
Corona Del Mar looked poised to put the game away at the start of the third. But on first and goal Argonaut defensive back Ezri Calderon recovered a fumble and the Argonauts took over at their own two-yard line.
Maze Masoe pushed the line four yards to give the Argonauts some breathing room. But on second down Sionne Masoe got caught in the end zone for another Corona Del Mar safety.
The Sea Kings added another touchdown nine seconds into the fourth quarter. Carter scored his second one-yard touchdown of the night to cap an 82-yard drive.
Minutes later, Corona Del Mar kicker Griffith Amies added a 43-yard field goal to push the lead to 35-3. The kick tied the California record for field goals in a season.
The Argonauts got in the end zone on Angel Martinez’s nine-yard pass to Josh Huff. The score capped an 80-yard drive that saw Martinez throw for 78 yards. On the night, the junior threw for 173 yards but had three interceptions and was sacked twice.
“He’ll learn from this and come back even more focused and ready,” said Puga, who called Martinez a student of the game.
With Martinez and several regulars returning, Puga believes the team will be back soon.
“I expect them to be hungry,” he said. “They’ll know it takes a bit more than what we had tonight.”
With just under five minutes left in the game, Argonaut linebacker Josh Vasquez was tackled by the neck. He stayed on the field for several minutes before being taken off on a stretcher.
Vasquez reported hearing a crack but said he had feeling in his neck and was able to move his extremities. He was taken to UCI Medical Center as a precaution, Puga said.