By Aaron Valdez
And with just one swing of a foot, Arcadia’s magical playoff run is over.
On a night that saw two heavyweights exchange blow for blow, it was Kaiser’s late go-ahead field goal that earned it the 38-35 win over the Apaches in the CIF-SS Division 8 Championship game on Friday.
It had been 40 years since Arcadia reached the promise land. The last time the Apaches made it this far was in 1978 when they lost 21-17 to Compton in the Costal Division final.
Unfortunately for Arcadia, history would repeat itself as the Apaches suffered a heart-breaking defeat at the hands of the Kaiser Cats. The two juggernauts were on a collision course all postseason long as Kaiser was riding a 12-game win streak while Arcadia was on a 10-game win streak.
One thing for sure was that Friday’s championship bout lived up to expectations. Arcadia set the tone first, going up 7-0 after Demarco Moorer capped off a solid drive with a 9-yard touchdown.
Kaiser answered back twice as hard when quarterback Trey Tribble and top rusher in the state Christian Hunter scored consecutive touchdowns that were sparked by an Arcadia fumble. This gave the Cats a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter.
Hunter proved to be the Apaches’ bane the entire night, running for an incredible 323 yards with three touchdowns.
The Pacific League champs quickly regrouped after falling behind as Dylan Guerra (19 of 24, 244 yards, two TDs) did what he does best and connected with Rolandiss Whitener on a 45-yard pass. This set up Moorer where he found the end zone once more to even the game at 14.
In the second quarter, Arcadia and Kaiser traded touchdowns but the Apaches would regain a 28-21 lead to take into the half. This was thanks to yet another stellar play from Guerra, who scoped out Ahmad Lipscomb for a 32-yard touchdown.
This seesaw battle continued in the second half as Hunter was at it again, dialing in another touchdown to tie the game at 28 in the third. However, the Apaches got out in front one last time when Guerra tossed it to wide receiver Frankie Contreras for the touchdown.
With a 35-28 lead in the third, the Apaches were a mere quarter away from their first-ever championship. But despite having slight control of the game, Arcadia’s struggles to take care of the ball would rear their ugly head.
After Moorer intercepted a pass from Tribble, the Apaches fumbled the ball inches away from Kaiser’s end zone. The mishap lit a fire in the Cats as none other than Hunter tied the game at 35 with a monumental 44-yard touchdown run.
Guerra would then follow that up with an uncharacteristic interception, which ultimately set Kaiser up for the play of the night. With three seconds left on the clock, Cats sophomore kicker Michael Mosqueda hit a 26-yard field goal to seal the 38-35 championship win for Kaiser.