Fountain Valley High was in unusual territory Friday night.
Not only were the Barons playing host to their first CIF Southern Section football playoff game since 2008, but they were also playing a team running the rare wing-T offense in Wildomar Elsinore.
None of that mattered.
Despite giving up a couple of big plays defensively, the Barons were able to overcome the adversity and defeat the Tigers 38-23 in the first round of the Division 6 playoffs at Huntington Beach High.
The win marked Fountain Valley's first in the postseason since 2003. The Barons (7-4) play at No. 2-seeded Santa Clarita Golden Valley (6-5) in the quarterfinals next week.
Although disappointed with the lapses in his defense in moments of the game, Barons coach Jimmy Nolan is proud of how his team did not succumb to the frustrations of playing a deceptive offense.
"We did a lot of good things," Nolan said. "That type of offense drives you crazy. One read wrong and you're done. You can stop them 10 times in a row, but that 11th time … they go for six points. It's tough to defend. I'm glad we got the win, but … if we play like that again, we can just not even show up next week. We're just happy to still be in [the playoffs]. We're trying to make this season as long as we can make it."
Fountain Valley quarterback Nick Welch had a standout performance. He passed for four touchdowns, completing 13 of 22 passes for 203 yards, and ran 10 times for 73 yards.
"You have to love Nick, he's a leader," Nolan said. "But if you want to do well in the playoffs, it's got to be more than those [types of] guys. He's leading our team in tackles, he's a complete workhorse, so I don't get upset with him, but if all 11 don't start coming to play, then it doesn't matter how well or bad he does."
Welch threw his first touchdown in the game's opening drive when he found Shane Bandaruk for a 13-yard score. The Barons would get the extra point blocked, but they held the six-point lead for the remainder of the first quarter.
Elsinore (6-5) displayed the effectiveness in its shifty offense when running back Isaiah Hobson broke open for a 50-yard touchdown to take the lead early in the second quarter.
Fountain Valley responded with fireworks of its own in the second quarter. Welch threw two 44-yard touchdowns, hitting Kishaun Sykes and Brandon Krause. Krause finished with six receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
Welch threw an interception with two minutes remaining in the first half. Elsinore capitalized, as Mario Lopez converted a 22-yard field goal to cut the Fountain Valley lead to 22-10.
The Fountain Valley defense solved the Elsinore offensive puzzle in the second half.
The Barons intercepted quarterback Tim Jakell twice. They turned one of those takeaways into a touchdown in the third quarter, as Welch connected with Krause on a 20-yard score. The ensuing two-point conversion was successful via a run by Welch.
Hobson, who finished with five carries for 74 yards, scored his second touchdown on the ground from 11 yards to bridge the gap at 30-17 at the end of the third quarter. Hobson also caught a 71-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Sykes seemingly put the game away for good with 7:53 left in the game. He got loose for a 58-yard touchdown run.
"For us, it's another win," said Nolan, whose team has won a lot more than it did a year ago, when it went 1-9. "We're not thinking about records. [It's] about taking it one game at a time. I don't want them to get caught up in the hype, because then we forget that we have to fight. Every day it's a fight, that's what football is."
CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoffs
Fountain Valley 38, Wildomar Elsinore 23
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Elsinore 0 – 10 – 7 – 6 — 23
Fountain Valley 6 – 16 – 8 – 8 — 38
FV – Bandaruk 13 pass from Welch (kick blocked), 6:37.
E – Hobson 50 run (Lopez kick), 11:51.
FV – Sykes 44 pass from Welch (Vallier run), 10:01.
FV – Krause 44 pass from Welch (Bandaruk pass from Welch), 5:30.
E – Lopez 22 FG, :00.
FV – Krause 20 pass from Welch (Welch run), 4:23.
E – Hobson 11 run (Lopez kick), 2:07.
FV – Sykes 58 run (Vallier run), 7:53.
E – Hobson 71 pass from Jakell (run failed), 7:40.
E – Hobson, 5-74, 2 TDs.
FV – Welch, 10-73.
E – Jakell, 4-14-2, 92, 1 TD.
FV – Welch, 13-22-1, 203, 4 TDs.
E – Hobson, 1-71, 1 TD.
FV – Krause, 6-104, 2 TDs.