After romping to the CIF-Los Angeles City Division I championship, Narbonne High’s football team knew it had a challenge as it traveled approximately 130 miles to Bakersfield to take on unbeaten CIF-Central Section Division II champion Ridgeview in the Southern California Regional Division IA Bowl Championship game last Saturday night.
The Gauchos got off to a slow start, trailing 7-0 in the first quarter after the Wolf Pack’s Cristion Brown scored on a 5-yard touchdown run. Narbonne, though, came back with two second quarter touchdowns to grab the lead for good. It started when the Gauchos drove 64 yards and scored on quarterback Roman Ale’s one-yard run to tie the game at seven. Narbonne, which improved to 13-2 overall, took a 14-7 lead with 37 seconds before halftime when Ale threw a 25-yard TD pass to Tre Walker who outjumped a Ridgeview defender.
The Gauchos added two more touchdowns in the third quarter on a 17-yard scoring run by Cameron Denmark for a 21-7 lead and a 7-yard run by University of Arizona-bound running back Sean Riley. That gave Narbonne at 28-14 lead shortly after the Wolf Pack scored its second touchdown on Jamar Moya’s 5-yard run.
In the fourth period, Moya scored again for Ridgeview, which ended its season at 13-1, but Denmark put the game and Southern California title away with a 26-yard touchdown run.
Denmark, a junior running back, rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. Senior Riley finished with 120 yards and one TD rushing on 19 carries. Ale completed 11 of 16 passes for 82 yards and one score.
Narbonne will travel to Sacramento State University to face Northern California Division IA champion Clayton Valley Charter from Concord for the CIF-California State Division IA crown Saturday at noon. The Ugly Eagles advanced to the state championship by downing Oak Grove from the Sacramento area 21-3 last Saturday.
The Gauchos never won a state title before. Four years ago, Narbonne made the Southern California Regional Division I Bowl but lost a close game to Corona Centennial, which this year won its second consecutive CIF-Southern Section PAC Five crown over Bellflower St. John Bosco 62-52 on Dec. 5 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim and will face Concord De La Salle for the California Open Division championship Saturday at Sacramento State at 8 p.m. Both games are expected to be televised on Time Warner Cable Community Channel.
Clayton Valley is led by three juniors in running back-defensive back Akeal Lalaind, defensive lineman Jeffrey Williams and middle linebacker-fullback Masi Matu, who also excelled on special teams for the Ugly Eagles in their win over Oak Grove. Clayton Valley is mostly a power running team with a very good size offensive line but also has an outstanding defense.