Aided by cold weather and a relentless defense, Mountain Football cruised to a CIF Division III first round playoff victory with a 34-8 drubbing over South.
The Tehachapi (6-5) defense led the way for the majority of the game, holding South (5-5) to only 138 yards of offense, 67 of which came on a late fourth quarter touchdown run by Deveon Williams with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We are doing better than just bend and don’t break. Our defense has been doing a heck of a job of shutting people down,” said head coach Doug DeGeer.
Dylan Ragsdale led the charge at linebacker with a team-high eight tackles, while Favian Garcia, Dylan Hanzel and Patrick Grimes had six tackles each. Hanzel and Grimes also had sacks.
Luke Soto spearheaded the defensive front, wreaking havoc on the line with four tackles and three sacks.
“There is definitely a difference between the beginning of the season and now,” said Soto. “After the regular season and the playoffs hit, our mindset has been to step it up a level, pull it together and play hard.”
Other defensive standouts included Sean Schulgen (five tackles), Mason Kiernan (four tackles), Peyton Stowers (four tackles), Nolan Gollenhon (three tackles) and Rory Bishop (three tackles). In the secondary, Connor Timm, Trevor Medovitch and Stowers all had interceptions.
Offensively, the Warrior offense line opened up gaping holes to record 261 yards rushing and five total rushing touchdowns, four of which came in the second half.
“We just have a brotherhood up on the line, we work really well together and we have each other’s backs,” said Warrior center Matt Gonzales. “As a team, we are rising up at a good time, getting everything going.”
Garrett Curry led the ground game with 77 yards rushing and two scores, while Hayden Palmer had 51 yards rushing and two rushing touchdowns. Patrick Grimes also had a rushing touchdown on a 22-yard run in the third quarter.
Other offensive standouts included Timm with 49 yards rushing, while Chris Garcia, Tanner Love, Noah Ledesma and Matthew Finklea combined for 64 yards on the ground.
On special teams, Ragsdale recorded two kickoff touchbacks and Medovitch connected on four point after attempts.
With the victory, No. 5 seed Tehachapi will move on to the CIF Division III playoff quarterfinals, earning another home game against No. 13 seed Fresno.
Fresno was an upset winner over No. 4 seed Independence last Thursday night. The game will be on Friday, Nov. 17, at Coy Burnett Field with a 7 p.m. kickoff. It will be the first-ever matchup between the two schools.
“It would have been nice to have another shot at Independence but we have another home game and we are certainly happy with that. We are looking forward to it,” added DeGeer.