Wildcats Blaze Trail to Finals
By Tony Solorzano, Writer
November 29, 2012 • 321 views
By Tony Solorzano
Granada Hills, CA –Two touchdowns by George Frazier helped Monrovia return to the Finals of the CIF Southern Section’s Mid-Valley Division as they eliminated the defending California Division IV State Champions, Sierra Canyon, 42-31, Friday night at John Elway Stadium at Granada Hills. High School.
The win put the Wildcats (11-2) in the Finals for the fourth consecutive year, and ended the hopes the Trailblazers (11-2) had of returning to defend their state title at the Home Depot Center in December.
The Trailblazers struck first as kicker Noah Zgrablich booted a 45-yard field goal with just over eight minutes left in the first. After trading possessions, the Wildcats got the ball on their own 20, but after a false start pushed the ‘Cats back five yards, quarterback Blake Heyworth handed off to Frazier who rumbled 85 yards for the score, giving the ‘Cats the 7-3 lead with just over five minutes left.
The Trailblazers retook the lead at the start of the second quarter. On the last play of the first quarter, the Trailblazers recovered a fumbled punt return on the Wildcats’ 12-yard line. As the second quarter started, Xavier Menifield took the hand off from quarterback Andre Nunez and broke through the line for the 12-yard score just seven seconds into the quarter, taking a 10-7 lead.
The Wildcats would respond five minutes later after Heyworth engineered a 76-yard drive on the ensuing possession, culminating in Darione Jones’ seven-yard run, with just over seven minutes left in the half, giving the ‘Cats a 14-10 lead. However, the Trailblazers responded quickly, as Nunez needed only two passes, a 55-yard strike to Preston White that put the ‘Blazers on the ‘Cats’ 25-yard line, then a pass to Isaiah Renfro for the remaining 25 yards and the score, putting the Blazers in the lead again, 17-14 midway through the quarter.
The ‘Cats regained the lead late in the half as Heyworth capped a 59-yard drive with a 20-yard scoring strike to Anthony Craft with just over two minutes left in the half, putting the ‘Cats back on top 21-17, where they would remain as the half ended.
In the third, the ‘Cats pulled ahead on their first possession of the second half, as Frazier once again broke free for another long score, this time for 55 yards, giving ‘Cats a 28-17 lead. Four minutes later, Jones would get his second score, this time a 12-yard run, increasing the ‘Cats lead to 35-17.
The Blazers got another gift from a bad punt, this time a fourth-and-long punt attempt late in the third ended up putting them deep in ‘Cats’ territory. The punt by Jeremy Haney was blocked but recovered by the ‘Cats, but the attempt to get the recovered punt past the first down marker at the Wildcats’ 35-yard line fell short at the 33-yard line, turning the ball over on downs, giving the Blazers excellent field position. Less than a minute later, Nunez hit Brian Tucker with a five-yard pass, cutting Monrovia’s lead to 35-24.
In the fourth, the ‘Cats’ leading rusher, Ge Vontray Ainsworth extended the lead to 42-24 as he broke off a 25-yard dash for his score that capped an 80-yard drive with just over five minutes left in the game. The ‘Blazers got one final score with 13 seconds left in the game as Nunez found Ticker again for a four-yard score, ending the scoring.
The Wildcats amassed 523 total yards of offense, including 179 passing yards from Heyworth on 11 completions, including the touchdown to Craft. Frazier was the monster of the game, rushing for 148 yards on only four carries, 130 of which came from his two scores, he also recorded three sacks of Nunez while playing on defense. Ainsworth and Jones combined for 186 yards and their three scores.
The Wildcats will play host to Paraclete next Friday. The Spirits reached the Finals with a 28-20 win over San Dimas. The teams have met twice in the playoffs. The Spirits eliminated the Wildcats in the second round of the 2007 Mid-Valley Division playoffs, while the Wildcats returned the favor two years later.