The Peterson Principal
It was a really a no brainer for Norwalk Coach Jesse Ceniceros. With just over three minutes left in the game, he would have his kicker Jorge Perez boot a chip shot field goal, take an 11 point lead and eventually run out the clock to win the Southeast Division championship. It was a pretty ordinary decision. However nothing was ordinary in this game.
Instead of Norwalk taking a 32-21 lead and putting a choke hold on the victory, La Serna’s Tony Ceron bolted through and blocked the 21-yard attempt. The ball took a nice bounce into the arms of Kevin Ramos who raced 95 yards for a touchdown. A Frankie Palmer run tied the game at 29 and just like that the tide had completely turned.
If you were anywhere but Titan Stadium on the campus of Cal State Fullerton Saturday night you missed a high school game for the ages. It’s commonly said that the game had a little bit of everything. It’s difficult to find something that this one didn’t have.
There were six lead changes in the contest and more back and forths than a Wimbledon Final. Norwalk led, then La Serna. Then Norwalk, then La Serna at the half. Then Norwalk came back and seemingly gained control before La Serna miraculously tied it. Norwalk led twice more in the overtime sessions before La Serna miraculously again pulled it out. Whew!
“The Lord works in mysterious ways,” Palmer said trying to explain it. “It was just game of momentum. They had it. Then we had it,” La Serna Coach Margarito Beltran said.
There were great plays made by great players. Palmer scrambled nearly the width of the field before finding Matthew Rosales for the game winning touchdown pass in the second overtime. Rashaad Penny did everything for Norwalk except tape the ankles of players before the game. He scored running and catching the ball.
There were several tough coaching decisions. Beltran elected to go for it on fourth and nine from his own 22 with over six minutes left. That one didn’t work. He later decided to go for a game winning touchdown on fourth down instead of a game tying field goal. That one worked out pretty well.
In hindsight, Ceniceros could have opted to go for a touchdown instead of a field goal. But really, who could have predicted that outcome?
There was the weather – temperatures dipping into the low thirties. Yet despite that both Ceniceros and Beltran wore shorts. There was atmosphere-Titan Stadium was bursting out the seams with approximately 8,000 fans.
And yes there were a couple of bad plays. A bad Norwalk snap on a punt led to a La Serna touchdown in the first half. A La Serna fumble early in the third quarter led to a Norwalk score.
And the bizarre-the blocked field goal and Ramos’ touchdown.
Unfortunately someone had to lose and it was Norwalk. But fortunately it was one of the greatest (the greatest?) high school games I’ve ever seen. And from here on out, people while always compare future CIF Championship games to La Serna-Norwalk 2013.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.