Karl Gaytan, Ocean View High School coach, got the sign for which he had waited more than a year Thursday night--and it came in the form of another loss.
But there is little shame in a defeat to Gardena (1-1), the Los Angeles City Section’s fourth-ranked team, and no shame in a 24-23 loss that came down to one overthrown conversion pass by the surprising Seahawks (1-2).
“This is the first time I’ve seen an Ocean View team come back,” said Gaytan, the second-year coach whose Seahawks fell behind, 31-0, in the first half against Fontana last week. “I think we’ve turned the corner.”
Thursday’s Seahawks bore little resemblance to the team that has long been the Sunset League’s favorite doormat. Though their offense began playing well a bit late, the defense was superb.
Linemen Shawn Fleming (6-5, 252) and Ken Stubbert (6-8, 260), as well as defensive backs Kurt Szuba and Jeff Darling were particularly effective. Defensive end Desi Hazely, a basketball player making his first start in football, also showed promise with a pass deflection and a 22-yard sack of Mohican quarterback John Matamoros.
Gardena started fast. Mohican tailback Brian Brown (16 carries for 117 yards) served notice that he is legitimately one of the state’s leading recruits by running 83 yards for the game’s first touchdown with 3:40 left in the first quarter.
But 75 yards of first-half penalties helped turn Gardena’s momentum to sludge, and the Mohicans finished with 18 penalties for 155 yards. Demetirous Smith’s 21-yard field goal was all the scoring they could summon to end the first half with a shockingly modest, 9-0 advantage.
“They came in thinking they were going to beat us by 40 points tonight,” Gaytan said. “Now look at Gardena; they look like they lost the game.”
Ocean View’s intended quarterback, Texas transfer Mike Spence, spent the game on the sidelines in street clothes because of questions raised by the school district regarding his residency status.
The two replacements, Dave Stocks and Chris Ibargary, had had less than a day’s preparation and less than a quarter’s varsity game experience. Stocks played the first half, and Chris Ibargary, apparently the better passer, took over in the second.
Ibargary’s biggest contribution, besides completing 4 of 5 passes for 49 yards, was a fumble recovery and 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that helped catapult the Seahawks to within two points of Gardena at 16-14.
Mat Bertram’s 16-yard field goal delivered Ocean View a fleeting lead at 17-16 with 6:09 left in the game. Gardena responded with a 40-yard, four-play drive, culminating in a 10-yard scoring pass from Matamoros to Brown. But it was Brown’s easy run up the middle for the conversion that sealed the victory.