(East Los Angeles, CA)—The Esteban E. Torres Toros were hoping to sidetrack the visiting Franklin Panther’s path to victory, but were hard-pressed to do so. The Panthers, led into the game by fourth year Head coach, Narciso Diaz, came into this Northern League match-up with a full complement of 43 rostered players and a current #2 ranking in the L.A. City Section’s Division II standings. On the other hand, the Charles Burnley-led Toros, despite their (0-3) League record and a roster size of 28, are ranked #7 in the same standing. On paper, only 5 of the 19 Section’s Division II teams have winning records, thus, the cause for the unbalanced log-jam from spots #6 to #19. At the end of the season next Friday, it could be quite possible that the Toros could squeak into the playoffs, based on their Overall record.
Brief Game Summary/(1st Half)—As the game unfolded in its early stages, the Panthers drove down field early and scored on a 25 yd. pass from #12/QB/SR/Alfred Bobadilla to #2/WR-FS/JR/Chris Quijada. The PAT was missed. Then on the ensuing Panther kick-off, the most electrifying play of the game occurred when the Toros, #22/WR-DE/SR/Marcel Whitmore took the kick-off on a bounce at his own 3 yard line, by the near-hashmark, and somehow managed to weave his way up-field on his team’s sideline. Then, with the Torres student-body cheering him on with every stride, at his 40 yard line he received a final block that sprung him into the secondary for a sprint to the end zone. All-in-all, this return would be the main highlight of the game for the Toros on this Homecoming night. The Toros failed on their PAT. The score was now (7-6), Franklin. For the rest for the half, the Panthers worked on their game plan, with Bobadilla rushing for 2 TDs on QB sneak plays, while unleashing a strong ground attack with #4/RB/SR/Kris Johnson, who rushed for 104 yards on 20 carries, as well as advertised through the air with his duo of crafty wide receivers,#2 Chris Quijada and #3/WR-OLB/SR/Chris Jauregui, who would finish the game with 5 catches/126 yds/1 TD. The halftime score was Franklin 35, Torres 6.
(2nd Half)—The Panthers scored their final two TDs on passes from Bobadilla to Jauregui, for 52 yards in the 3rd period, and a 4th quarter 35 yard toss to one of his season-long favorites, Quijada, who finished with 5 recps/141 yds/3 TDs. For his final game stat, Bobadilla completed 15/26 for 316 yds, while rushing for 2, throwing for 4, and finishing with a 140.1% QB rating. The Panthers’ Special Teams player who was impressive for his place-kicking, and kick-0ff duties, and who scored 4 points, was #19/K-RB/SR/Mauricio Zuluaga. After their last score, the game Referee implemented the L.A. City Section’s “Mercy Rule” from the 9:43 mark to the conclusion of the game. Next Up for Franklin is Lincoln at home on 11/1.
With all due respect for the Torres Toros, they were never able to mount or establish a consistent rhythm due to their ineffective running game and lack of a “quick strike” or deep ball threat. In addition, they were often heavily penalized during their possessions. This obviously thwarted most of their attempts to get something going. In reflecting on game performances, #8/QB/JR/Devin Ramblaz was under pressure on nearly every snap and never had enough time to stay in the pocket to find open receivers. The Toros running backs could only muster 2-3 average yards per carry due to the quickness and depth of the Franklin defense. For the Toros defense, time and time again, #77/DL/SR/Horacio Castellanos, #5/MLB-FB/SR/Andy Rodriguez, and #52/DL/JR/José Lopez did better than average at their positions, as they were credited for many solo and assisted tackles. At the end of the game, there were some Torres high points and “lessons well-learned” in the contest, even though they may have come in the last five minutes of the game when Coach Burnley inserted #4/RB-WR-DE/SR/Najiah Harrison at QB. On their last possession of the game, he calmly and strongly ran and drove the offense on a steady drive from his own 30 to the Panthers 30, as the game clock expired. In closing the game out, it left fans possibly thinking that the Toros may have found a different note to end their season on. And who knows, with a bigger complement of players on the squad, and/or perhaps some players moving up to Varsity from the JVs, the Toros could be a completely different team by the playoffs. As mentioned earlier in this write-up, we will now wait and see if the Toros can qualify for the playoffs. Next Up for Torres is Eagle Rock at home, 11/1.
FINAL SCORE: Franklin 48 Torres 6