Franklin Gets Better of Granada Hills in Battle of Champions
When a defending City Section 3-A championship team meets a defending 4-A champion, whom do you like?
Darryl Stroh, coach of the 4-A team, tossed aside the classification system before the game Friday night.
“Hell, 3-A, 4-A, it doesn’t mean a thing,” he said.
Franklin Coach Armando Gonzalez, however, didn’t want to toss it away.
“Playing a team of this caliber, we just hope to match up,” he said.
In the end, Stroh was correct. Classification didn’t matter.
Visiting Franklin, behind Santiago Alvarez’s 250 passing yards, upset the Highlanders, 21-14.
Alvarez, a junior making his first varsity start, completed 24 of 36 and threw a touchdown pass to lead the Panthers.
The winning play came on a halfback-option pass from Lucio Solano to Albert Miramontes with 2:29 remaining. On third and goal from the 13, Alvarez pitched to Solano, who rolled right, pulled up and threw a strike to a wide-open Miramontes in the right corner of the end zone.
The play capped a 16-play, 77-yard drive in which the Panthers passed the ball 14 times.
Passing 14 of 16 times in the final drive? Sure. The Panthers were only taking advantage of a Highlander secondary that Stroh had labeled “green” before the game. And he wasn’t talking about the color of their uniform numbers.
Time and again, Alvarez shredded Granada Hills’ defense in running up a 14-0 halftime lead. Highlander Robert Haywood did come up with three interceptions, but Alvarez was the story of the night.
And while Franklin discovered a new passing game, Granada Hills was busy scrapping its own. Highlander quarterback Chris Godomski threw only six passes in the second half, four of which came on the final, desperate drive. He finished 5 of 16 for 50 yards.
In the second half, it was Ground Granada. Highlanders Marrio Walker (104 yards in 9 carries), Leon Glasgow (50 yards in 7 carries) and Brett Washington (54 yards in 8 second-half carries) brought Granada Hills back. Washington scored on a 12-yard run with 5:43 left in the third quarter that cut the lead to 14-7.
Walker then ran for a 16-yard touchdown eight minutes later to tie the score.
But Franklin gathered itself for the final march that culminated with the halfback touchdown pass.
“Not bad for a 3-A team,” said an elated Gonzalez. “You’ve got to give it to our kids.”
Stroh’s postgame reaction?
“I don’t have one,” he said quietly as he ran off the field.